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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2011 May;31(5):1196-210. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2011.26. Epub 2011 Mar 2.

In vivo contributions of BH3-only proteins to neuronal death following seizures, ischemia, and traumatic brain injury.

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Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.


The Bcl-2 homology (BH) domain 3-only proteins are a proapoptotic subgroup of the Bcl-2 gene family, which regulate cell death via effects on mitochondria. The BH3-only proteins react to various cell stressors and promote cell death by binding and inactivating antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members and direct activation of proapoptotic multi-BH domain proteins such as Bax. Here, we review the in vivo evidence for their involvement in the pathophysiology of status epilepticus and contrast it to ischemia and traumatic brain injury. Seizures in rodents activate three potent proapoptotic BH3-only proteins: Bid, Bim, and Puma. Analysis of damage after seizures in mice singly deficient for each BH3-only protein supports a causal role for Puma and to a lesser extent Bim but, surprisingly, not Bid. In ischemia and trauma, where core aspects of the pathophysiology of cell death overlap, multiple BH3-only proteins are also activated and Bid has been shown to be required for neuronal death. The findings suggest that while each neurologic insult activates multiple BH3-only proteins, there may be specificity in their functional contribution. Future challenges include evaluating the remaining BH3-only proteins, explaining different causal contributions, and, if possible, exploring neurologic outcomes in mouse models deficient for multiple BH3-only proteins.

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