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J Neurosci. 2007 Sep 19;27(38):10094-105.

System x(c)- activity and astrocytes are necessary for interleukin-1 beta-mediated hypoxic neuronal injury.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


The purpose of this study was to elucidate the cellular/biochemical pathway(s) by which interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) contributes to the pathogenesis of hypoxic-ischemic brain damage. In vivo, IL-1 receptor type I (IL-1RI)-deficient mice showed smaller infarcts and less neurological deficits than wild-type animals after a 90 min reversible middle cerebral artery occlusion. In vitro, IL-1beta mediated an enhancement of hypoxic neuronal injury in murine cortical cultures that was lacking in cultures derived from IL-1RI null mutant animals and was blocked by the IL-1 receptor antagonist or an IL-1RI blocking antibody. This IL-1beta-mediated potentiation of hypoxic neuronal injury was associated with an increase in both cellular cystine uptake ([cystine]i) and extracellular glutamate levels ([glutamate]e) and was prevented by either ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonism or removal of L-cystine, suggesting a role for the cystine/glutamate antiporter (System x(c)-). Indeed, dual System x(c)-/metabotropic glutamate receptor subunit 1 (mGluR1) antagonism but not selective mGluR1 antagonism prevented neuronal injury. Additionally, cultures derived from mGluR1-deficient mice exhibited the same potentiation in injury after treatment with IL-1beta as wild-type cultures, an effect prevented by System x(c)-/mGluR1 antagonism. Finally, assessment of System x(c)- function and kinetics in IL-1beta-treated cultures revealed an increase in velocity of cystine transport (Vmax), in the absence of a change in affinity (Km). Neither the enhancement in [cystine]i, [glutamate]e, or neuronal injury were observed in chimeric cultures consisting of IL-1RI(+/+) neurons plated on top of IL-1RI(-/-) astrocytes, highlighting the importance of astrocyte-mediated alterations in System x(c)- as a novel contributor to the development and progression of hypoxic neuronal injury.

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