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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor prevents changes in Bcl-2 family members and caspase-3 activation induced by excitotoxicity in the striatum.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) prevents the loss of striatal neurons caused by excitotoxicity. We examined whether these neuroprotective effects are mediated by changes in the regulation of Bcl-2 family members. We first analyzed the involvement of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway in this regulation, showing a reduction in phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) levels after both quinolinate (QUIN, an NMDA receptor agonist) and kainate (KA, a non-NMDA receptor agonist) intrastriatal injection. Our results also show that Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L) and Bax protein levels and heterodimerization are selectively regulated by NMDA and non-NMDA receptor stimulation. Striatal cell death induced by QUIN is mediated by an increase in Bax and a decrease in Bcl-2 protein levels, leading to reduced levels of Bax:Bcl-2 heterodimers. In contrast, changes in Bax protein levels are not required for KA-induced apoptotic cell death, but decreased levels of both Bax:Bcl-2 and Bax:Bcl-x(L) heterodimer levels are necessary. Furthermore, QUIN and KA injection activated caspase-3. Intrastriatal grafting of a BDNF-secreting cell line counter-regulated p-AKT, Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L) and Bax protein levels, prevented changes in the heterodimerization between Bax and pro-survival proteins, and blocked caspase-3 activation induced by excitotoxicity. These results provide a possible mechanism to explain the anti-apoptotic effect of BDNF against to excitotoxicity in the striatum through the regulation of Bcl-2 family members, which is probably mediated by Akt activation.[1]


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