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J Neurosci Res. 1996 Feb 1;43(3):382-9.

Central glial and neuronal populations display differential sensitivity to ceramide-dependent cell death.

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Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York, 10021 USA.


Ceramide is a lipid second messenger implicated in the mechanism of apoptotic cell death. The effect of the cell-permeable ceramide analogue C2 has been tested on primary cortical cultures of neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes as well as on the bipotential glial precursor cell line CG-4. After 24 hr of treatment, C2 ceramide induced a dose-dependent cell death in primary oligodendrocytes and precursor cells, with a maximum effect at 10 microM. Commitment of oligodendrocytes to cell death occurred within the first 6 hr of treatment. Ultramicroscopic analysis of primary oligodendrocytes exposed to C2 ceramide for 3.5 hr revealed extensive membrane blebbing in the absence of nuclear condensation. In contrast, similar treatment of primary neuronal or astrocytic cortical cultures had no effect on cell survival. Neurons and astrocytes were resistant to 10 microM C2 ceramide. Furthermore, bipotential progenitors that were differentiated toward astrocytes also became resistant to ceramide treatment as they acquired a mature astrocytic phenotype. These experiments suggest that cell type specific factors are required for ceramide-mediated cell death in the nervous system.

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