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Free Radic Biol Med. 2006 Sep 15;41(6):960-72. Epub 2006 Jun 7.

Cyclooxygenase-2-dependent neuronal death proceeds via superoxide anion generation.

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Division of Nano Science and Department of Life Sciences, Ewha Womans University, 11-1, Daehyun-Dong, Seodaemoon-Gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression is induced in the neurons of the pathologic brain and elevated COX-2 expressions can lead to neuronal death. Here, we report that COX-2 induction in cortical neurons induced by LPS pretreatment for more than 12 h increased the neurotoxic effects of low doses of Fe2+ by more than 2.5-fold. Moreover, the neurotoxicity induced by 30 muM Fe2+ in LPS-pretreated cells exceeded that induced by 100 microM Fe2+ in LPS-untreated cells. LPS pretreatment also similarly aggravated the neurotoxic effects of low doses of H2O2, Zn2+, and sodium nitroprusside. This LPS-induced Fe2+ -toxicity enhancement was blocked by trolox, vitamin C, the SOD mimetic MnTBAP, and by the COX-2-specific inhibitor NS398, but not by inhibitors of xanthine oxidase, NADPH oxidase, NOS, and monoamine oxidase. Cortical neurons with enhanced COX-2 expression showed superoxide generation, GSH depletion, and lipid peroxidation in response to low doses of Fe2+, and all of these changes were repressed by MnTBAP or NS398. Consistent with this pharmacological data, cortical neurons prepared from COX-2 knockout mice showed marked reductions in LPS-induced Fe2+ -toxicity enhancement and superoxide generation. These results suggest that COX-2 functions as a cellular factor which induces superoxide-mediated cell death in primary cortical neurons.

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