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

Increased glutathione biosynthesis by Nrf2 activation in astrocytes prevents p75-dependent motor neuron apoptosis.

Astrocytes may modulate the survival of motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We have previously shown that fibroblast growth factor-1 (FGF-1) activates astrocytes to increase secretion of nerve growth factor ( NGF). NGF in turn induces apoptosis in co-cultured motor neurons expressing the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) by a mechanism involving nitric oxide (NO) and peroxynitrite formation. We show here that FGF-1 increased the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase and NO production in astrocytes, making adjacent motor neurons vulnerable to NGF-induced apoptosis. Spinal cord astrocytes isolated from transgenic SOD1(G93A) rats displayed increased NO production and spontaneously induced apoptosis of co-cultured motor neurons. FGF-1 also activates the redox-sensitive transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 ( Nrf2) in astrocytes. Because Nrf2 increases glutathione (GSH) biosynthesis, we investigated the role of GSH production by astrocytes on p75(NTR)-dependent motor neuron apoptosis. The combined treatment of astrocytes with FGF-1 and t-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ) increased GSH production and secretion, preventing motor neuron apoptosis. Moreover, Nrf2 activation in SOD1(G93A) astrocytes abolished their apoptotic activity. The protection exerted by increased Nrf2 activity was overcome by adding the NO donor DETA-NONOate to the co-cultures or by inhibiting GSH synthesis and release from astrocytes. These results suggest that activation of Nrf2 in astrocytes can reduce NO-dependent toxicity to motor neurons by increasing GSH biosynthesis.[1]


  1. Increased glutathione biosynthesis by Nrf2 activation in astrocytes prevents p75-dependent motor neuron apoptosis. Vargas, M.R., Pehar, M., Cassina, P., Beckman, J.S., Barbeito, L. J. Neurochem. (2006) [Pubmed]
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