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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Sep;13(9):1595-610. Epub 2006 Jan 20.

Bioenergetic analysis of cerebellar granule neurons undergoing apoptosis by potassium/serum deprivation.

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Buck Institute for Age Research, 8001 Redwood Blvd., Novato, CA 94945, USA.


Apoptosis induced by K+/serum deprivation (low K+) in cerebellar granule neurons has been extensively investigated. The mitochondria play a key role in apoptosis by releasing proapoptotic factors into the cytoplasm, and mitochondrial dysfunction has been proposed as an early or initiating event in this model. To directly test this hypothesis, cellular and mitochondrial bioenergetics were quantified by determining the respiratory parameters of coverslip-attached neurons. While oxidative phosphorylation rate decreased 39-49% in low K+, this was due to decreased cellular ATP demand rather than impaired ATP/ADP exchange or respiratory chain inhibition. From 3 to 5 h in low K+, apoptosis progressed from 13 to 40% despite no appreciable change in respiratory parameters. Changes in steady-state O2-, assessed with dihydroethidium, were seen in granule but not hippocampal neurons. The O2- change correlated with changes in [Ca2+]c, but not mitochondrial respiration. Thus, early mitochondrial dysfunction can be excluded in this common model of neuronal apoptosis.

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