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Endocrinology. 1997 Jan;138(1):101-6.

Glucocorticoids enhance oxidative stress-induced cell death in hippocampal neurons in vitro.

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Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Institute, Munich, Germany.


In patients with Alzheimer's disease, hippocampal cells are among the first neuronal cells of the brain to degenerate. Both rat primary hippocampal neurons and cells of the clonal mouse hippocampal cell line HT22 express endogenous functional glucocorticoid receptors (GRs), as shown by transient transfection of cells with a luciferase reporter plasmid containing GR-responsive elements. The influence of activated GRs on oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell death in vitro was investigated employing these hippocampal model systems. Two oxidative stressors were investigated, the free radical-inducing Alzheimer's disease-associated amyloid beta-protein, which is toxic to hippocampal neurons, and the excitatory amino acid glutamate, which induces oxidative cell death in HT22 cells via an increase in intracellular peroxides. Cellular viability was assessed with the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide test and trypan exclusion staining, followed by microscopical cell counting. Glucocorticoids strongly increased the vulnerability of the hippocampal cells to amyloid beta-protein and glutamate. This increase could be blocked by the specific GR antagonist RU486. Our data suggest that changes in hippocampal GR homeostasis and regulation may render hippocampal neurons more vulnerable to oxidative stress-induced neuronal degeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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