Suprachiasmatic nucleus neurons display endogenous resistance to excitotoxicity

Kathleen Bottum, Emily Poon, Benjamin Haley, Sumedha Karmarkar, Shelley A. Tischkau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A comprehensive understanding of neuroprotective pathways is essential to progress in the battle against numerous neurodegenerative conditions. The hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is endogenously resistant to glutamate (Glu) excitotoxicity in vivo. This study was designed to determine whether immortalized SCN neurons (SCN2.2 cells) retain this characteristic. We first established that SCN2.2 cells retained the ability to respond to Glu. SCN2.2 cells expressed N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subtypes NR1 and NR2A/2B, suggesting the presence of functional receptors. mRNA for the NMDA receptor subunits NR2A and NR2B were higher in the SCN2.2 than in the control hypothalamic neurons (GT1-7). Specific NMDA receptor antagonists (+)-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzo[a,d]cyclohepten-5,10-imine maleate and D-(-)-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid blocked Glu-induced activation of gene expression. SCN2.2 cells were resistant to Glu excitotoxicity compared with GT1-7 neurons as assessed with a mitochondrial function assay, cell death by trypan blue exclusion and apoptosis by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling. SCN2.2 resistance to Glu excitoxicity was retained in the presence of the broad spectrum Glu transport inhibitor, ⌊- transpyrrolidine-2,4 dicarboxylate, excluding glial Glu uptake as a major neuroprotective mechanism. Collectively, these observations demonstrate endogenous neuroprotection in SCN2.2 cells; this cell line is resistant to excitotoxicity under conditions that are toxic to other immortalized cell lines. Thus, the SCN2.2 cell line may provide insights into the molecular mechanisms that confer endogenous neuroprotection in the SCN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Glutamate
  • NMDA receptor
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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