Apoptosis, a form of cell death (“programmed” cell death) in which the nucleus and cytoplasm shrink and often fragment, serves to eliminate excessive or unwanted cells during remodeling of embryonic tissues, during organ involution, and in tumor regression. In acute pathological states, such as ischemia, the cells tend to swell and lyse—a process called necrosis. We hypothesize that the delayed neural death clinically associated with hypoxia may, in part, represent apoptosis. A tissue culture model of 24 hours of hypoxia was employed using sympathetic neurons. Pretreatment with an endonuclease inhibitor (aurintricarboxylic acid) decreased cell death by 53%, depolarizing conditions (55 mM potassium chloride) decreased cell death by 33%, and an RNA synthesis inhibitor (actinomycin D) by 26% (all have been shown to prevent apoptosis). Pretreatment with antisense c‐myc had no effect. Fluorescent staining with propidium iodide (a DNA marker) demonstrated chromatin condensation and agarose gel electrophoresis demonstrated a DNA “ladder.” These data suggest that apoptosis may play a role in hypoxic cell death and that in this paradigm, expression of c‐myc is unnecessary. This would suggest a new approach to our understanding of hypoxia and open new strategies to lessen neuronal damage secondary to this process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology