A predominant apoptotic death pathway of neuronal PC12 cells induced by activated microglia is displaced by a non-apoptotic death pathway following blockage of caspase-3-dependent cascade

Kazunari Tanabe, Hiroshi Nakanishi, Hidefumi Maeda, Tsuyoshi Nishioku, Koichi Hashimoto, Shyh Yuh Liou, Akifumi Akamine, Kenji Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Activated microglia have been implicated in the regulation of neuronal cell death. However, the biochemical mechanism for neuronal death triggered by activated microglia is still unclear. When treated with activated microglia, neuronal PC12 cells undergo apoptosis accompanied by caspase-3- like protease activation and DNA fragmentation. Apoptotic bodies formed were subsequently phagocytosed by neighboring activated microglia. Pretreatment of the cells with the caspase-3-like protease inhibitor N-acetyl-Asp-Glu-Val- Asp-aldehyde did not reverse this cell death. Although Bcl-2 overexpression in the cells caused the inhibition of caspase-3-like protease activity and DNA fragmentation and the effective interference of apoptosis induced by deprivation of trophic factors, it could not suppress the activated microglia-induced neuronal death. At the electron microscopic level, degenerating cells with high levels of Bcl-2 were characterized by slightly condensed chromatins forming irregular-shaped masses, severely disintegrated perikarya, and marked vacuolation. Various protease inhibitors tested did not inhibit this cell death, whereas the radical oxygen species scavenger N- acetyl-L-cysteine significantly suppressed this death. Altogether, our study provides an alternative death pathway for the activated microglia-induced neuronal death by blockage of the caspase-3 protease cascade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15725-15731
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - May 28 1999


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this