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J Neurochem. 2009 Mar;108(5):1143-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05846.x. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Multiple protective activities of neuroglobin in cultured neuronal cells exposed to hypoxia re-oxygenation injury.

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ANZAC Research Institute, Concord Hospital, New South Wales, Australia.


Oxidative stress is associated with the pathology of acute and chronic neurodegenerative disease. We have cloned a human neuroglobin (Nb) construct and over-expressed this protein in cultured human neuronal cells to assess whether Nb ameliorates the cellular response to experimental hypoxia-reoxygenation (H/R) injury. Parental cells transfected with a blank (pDEST40) vector responded to H/R injury with a significant decrease in cellular ATP at 5 and 24 h after insult. This was coupled with increases in the cytosolic Ca(2+), and the transition metals iron (Fe), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn) within the cell body, as monitored simultaneously using X-ray fluorescence microprobe imaging. Parental cell viability decreased over the same time period with a approximately 4 to 5-fold increase in cell death (maximum approximately 25%) matched by an increase in caspase 3/7 activation (peaking at a 15-fold increase after 24 h) and condensation of beta-actin along axonal processes. Over-expression of Nb inhibited ATP loss and except for significant decreases in the sulfur (S), chlorine (Cl), potassium (K) and Ca(2+) contents, maintained cellular ion homeostasis after H/R insult. This resulted in increased cell viability, significantly diminished caspase activation and maintenance of the beta-actin cytoskeletal structure and receptor-mediated endocytosis. These data indicate that bolstering the cellular content of Nb inhibits neuronal cell dysfunction promoted by H/R insult through multiple protective actions including: (i) maintenance of cellular bioenergetics; (ii) inhibition of Ca(2+) influx; (iii) a reduction in cellular uptake of Fe, Cu and Zn at the expense of S, Cl and K; and (iv) an enhancement of cell viability through inhibiting necrosis and apoptosis.

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