Programmed cell death (PCD) has been defined as an active, controlled process in which cells participate in their own demise. Apoptosis, or type I PCD, has been widely characterized, both morphologically and biochemically. More recently, autophagy, the self-digesting mechanism involved in the removal of cytoplasmic long-lived proteins, has been involved in cell death, and type II PCD is defined as cell death occurring with autophagic features. Neurons can undergo more than one type of PCD as a backup mechanism when the traditional death pathway is inhibited or in response to a particular death-inducing stimulus. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been shown to be important signaling molecules in the execution of apoptosis and, more recently, in the autophagic pathway. In this work, we characterize apoptotic and autophagic cell death in rat cerebellar granule neuron (CGN) culture, a widespread model for the study of neuronal death. Potassium deprivation (K5) and staurosporine (STS) were used for death induction. We found apoptotic and autophagic features under both conditions. Caspase inhibition as well as autophagy inhibition by 3-methyl adenine decreased cell death. Moreover, CGN can undergo the alternative type of cell death when the other one is inhibited. An antioxidant or NADPH oxidase inhibitors delayed apoptosis and had no effect in autophagic features. Thus, we found that autophagy plays a role in cell death of CGN and that, when cells are treated with K5 or STS, both autophagy and ROS seem to promote apoptosis by independent mechanisms.
- 3-methyl adenine
- Serum and potassium deprivation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience