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Garcia de la Cadena, Selene; Hernandez-Fonseca, Karla; Camacho-Arroyo, Ignacio; Massieu, Lourdes (2014)


Apoptosis 19(3):414-427
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Glucose is the main energy source in brain and it is critical for correct brain functioning. Type 1 diabetic patients might suffer from severe hypoglycemia if exceeding insulin administration, which can lead to acute brain injury if not opportunely corrected. The mechanisms leading to hypoglycemic brain damage are not completely understood and the role of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has not been studied. ER stress resulting from the accumulation of unfolded or misfolded proteins in the ER is counteracted by the unfolded protein response (UPR). When the UPR is sustained, apoptotic death might take place. We have examined UPR activation during glucose deprivation (GD) in hippocampal cultured neurons and its role in the induction of apoptosis. Activation of the PERK pathway of the UPR was observed, as increased phosphorylation of eIF2α and elevated levels of the transcription factor ATF4, occurred 30 min after GD and the levels of the chaperone protein, GRP78 and the transcription factor CHOP, increased after 2 h of GD. In addition, we observed an early activation of caspase-7 and 12 during GD, while caspase-3 activity increased only transiently during glucose reintroduction. Inhibition of caspase-3/7 and the calcium-dependent protease, calpain, significantly decreased caspase-12 activity. The ER stress inhibitor, salubrinal prevented neuronal death and caspase-12 activity. Results suggest that the PERK pathway of the UPR is involved in GD-induced apoptotic neuronal death through the activation of caspase-12, rather than the mitochondrial-dependent caspase pathway. In addition, we show that calpain and caspase-7 are soon activated after GD and mediate caspase-12 activation and neuronal death.