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Autophagy. 2011 Dec;7(12):1528-45.

Macroautophagy-generated increase of lysosomal amyloid β-protein mediates oxidant-induced apoptosis of cultured neuroblastoma cells.

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Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, IKE, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.


Increasing evidence suggests the toxicity of intracellular amyloid β-protein (Aβ) to neurons, as well as the involvement of oxidative stress in Alzheimer disease (AD). Here we show that normobaric hyperoxia (exposure of cells to 40% oxygen for five days), and consequent activation of macroautophagy and accumulation of Aβ within lysosomes, induced apoptosis in differentiated SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Cells under hyperoxia showed: (1) increased numbers of autophagic vacuoles that contained amyloid precursor protein (APP) as well as Aβ monomers and oligomers, (2) increased reactive oxygen species production, and (3) enhanced apoptosis. Oxidant-induced apoptosis positively correlated with cellular Aβ production, being the highest in cells that were stably transfected with APP Swedish KM670/671NL double mutation. Inhibition of γ-secretase, prior and/or in parallel to hyperoxia, suggested that the increase of lysosomal Aβ resulted mainly from its autophagic uptake, but also from APP processing within autophagic vacuoles. The oxidative stress-mediated effects were prevented by macroautophagy inhibition using 3-methyladenine or ATG5 downregulation. Our results suggest that upregulation of macroautophagy and resulting lysosomal Aβ accumulation are essential for oxidant-induced apoptosis in cultured neuroblastoma cells and provide additional support for the interactive role of oxidative stress and the lysosomal system in AD-related neurodegeneration.

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