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Eur J Neurosci. 1998 Apr;10(4):1252-60.

Potentiation of murine astrocyte antioxidant defence by bcl-2: protection in part reflects elevated glutathione levels.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305, USA.


Overexpression of the proto-oncogene bcl-2 has been shown to protect a variety of cell types from oxidative and non-oxidative injury, blocking apoptotic and necrotic types of cell death. Retroviral vectors were used to stably overexpress bcl-2 in primary murine astrocyte cultures with more than 95% efficiency. Compared to beta-galactosidase-expressing and uninfected control cells, bcl-2 overexpressing astrocytes suffered < 40% injury after 24 h glucose deprivation, while controls were essentially completely injured. After exposure to 0.2 mM hydrogen peroxide, the bcl-2 overexpressing astrocytes suffered < 40% the injury seen in controls. In contrast, when the cultures were injured by combined oxygen-glucose deprivation, no difference in the extent or time course of injury was found between cells overexpressing bcl-2 and those expressing beta-galactosidase. To investigate one possible mechanism of bcl-2 protection, we measured the levels of glutathione and three antioxidant enzymes. Astrocytes overexpressing bcl-2 had elevated glutathione levels (130-200%), increased superoxide dismutase (170%) and glutathione peroxidase (140%) activities compared with beta-galactosidase-expressing controls. Bcl-2 overexpressing astrocytes suffered less lipid peroxidation after glucose deprivation, as assessed by cis-parinaric acid fluorescence, and demonstrated more rapid removal of hydrogen peroxide from the medium. When glutathione levels were decreased 80% by pretreatment with buthionine sulfoximine, the extent of protection from glucose deprivation of bcl-2 overexpressing cells was decreased by about half. Increased antioxidant defence contributes to protection from glucose deprivation in bcl-2 overexpressing astrocytes.

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