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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2004 Sep 10;128(1):20-9.

Angiotensin II attenuates NMDA receptor-mediated neuronal cell death and prevents the associated reduction in Bcl-2 expression.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Structural Biology, University of Illinois, B107 CLSL, 601 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


While angiotensin II (Ang II) plays a major role in the regulation of blood pressure, fluid homeostasis and neuroendocrine function, recent studies have also implicated the peptide hormone in cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis. In support of this, we have previously demonstrated that Ang II attenuates N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor signaling [Molec. Brain Res. 48 (1997) 197]. To further examine the modulatory role of Ang II on NMDA receptor function, we investigated the effect of angiotensin receptor (AT) activation on NMDA-mediated cell death and the accompanying decrease in Bcl-2 expression. The viability of differentiated N1E-115 and NG108-15 neuronal cell lines was reduced following exposure to NMDA in a dose-dependent manner. MTT analysis (mitochondrial integrity) revealed a decrease in cell survival of 49.4+/-12.3% in NG108 cells and 79.9+/-6.8% in N1E cells following treatment with 10 mM NMDA for 20 h. Cytotoxicity in N1E cells was inhibited by the noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist, MK-801. Further, NMDA receptor-mediated cell death in NG108 cells was attenuated by treatment with Ang II. The Ang II effect was inhibited by both AT1 and AT2 receptor antagonists, losartan and PD123319, respectively, suggesting that both receptor subtypes may play a role in the survival effect of Ang II. Since it has been shown that activation of NMDA receptors alters the expression of Bcl-2 family proteins, Western blot analysis was performed in N1E cells to determine whether Ang II alters the NMDA-induced changes in Bcl-2 expression. A concentration-dependent decrease of intracellular Bcl-2 protein levels was observed following treatment with NMDA, and this reduction was inhibited by MK801. Addition of Ang II suppressed the NMDA receptor-mediated reduction in Bcl-2. The Ang II effect on NMDA-mediated changes in Bcl-2 levels was blocked by PD123319, but was not significantly changed by losartan, suggesting AT2 receptor specificity. Taken together, these results suggest that Ang II attenuates NMDA receptor-mediated neurotoxicity and that this effect may be due, in part, to an alteration in Bcl-2 expression.

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