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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 15;286(28):24666-73. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.236273. Epub 2011 May 25.

24(S)-hydroxycholesterol induces neuronal cell death through necroptosis, a form of programmed necrosis.

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  • 1Systems Life Sciences, Department of Medical Life Systems, Faculty of Medical and Life Sciences, Doshisha University, Kyoto 610-0394, Japan.


24(S)-Hydroxycholesterol (24S-OHC) produced by cholesterol 24-hydroxylase expressed mainly in neurons plays an important physiological role in the brain. Conversely, it has been reported that 24S-OHC possesses potent cytotoxicity. The molecular mechanisms of 24S-OHC-induced cell death have not yet been fully elucidated. In this study, using human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells and primary cortical neuronal cells derived from rat embryo, we characterized the form of cell death induced by 24S-OHC. SH-SY5Y cells treated with 24S-OHC exhibited neither fragmentation of the nucleus nor caspase activation, which are the typical characteristics of apoptosis. 24S-OHC-treated cells showed necrosis-like morphological changes but did not induce ATP depletion, one of the features of necrosis. When cells were treated with necrostatin-1, an inhibitor of receptor-interacting serine/threonine kinase 1 (RIPK1) required for necroptosis, 24S-OHC-induced cell death was significantly suppressed. The knockdown of RIPK1 by transfection of small interfering RNA of RIPK1 effectively attenuated 24S-OHC-induced cell death. It was found that neither SH-SY5Y cells nor primary cortical neuronal cells expressed caspase-8, which was regulated for RIPK1-dependent apoptosis. Collectively, these results suggest that 24S-OHC induces neuronal cell death by necroptosis, a form of programmed necrosis.

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