Intracellular glutathione levels determine cerebellar granule neuron sensitivity to excitotoxic injury by kainic acid.Brain Res. 2000 Apr 17; 862(1-2):83-9.BR
Glutathione (GSH) is a key component of the cellular defence cascade against injury caused by reactive oxygen species. Kainic acid (KA) is a potent central nervous system excitotoxin. KA-elicited neuronal death may result from the generation of ROS. The present study was undertaken to characterize the role of GSH in KA-induced neurotoxicity. Cultures of cerebellar granule neurons were prepared from 8-day-old rats, and used at 8, 14 and 20 days in vitro (DIV). Granule neurons displayed a developmental increase in their sensitivity to KA injury, as quantified by an ELISA-based assay with the tetrazolium salt MTT. At DIV 14 and 20, a 30-min challenge with KA (500 microM) reduced cell viability by 45% after 24 h, significantly greater (P<0.01) than the 22% cell loss with DIV 8 cultures. Moreover acute (30 min) KA exposure concentration-dependently reduced intracellular GSH and enhanced reactive oxygen species generation (evaluated by 2', 7'-dichlorofluorescein diacetate). In comparison to control, KA (500 microM) lowered GSH levels in DIV 8 granule neurons by 16% (P=0. 0388), and by 36% (P=0.0001) in both DIV 14 and DIV 20 neurons, after 30 min. Preincubation of granule neurons with the membrane permeant GSH delivery agent, GSH ethyl ester (5 mM), for 30 min significantly increased intracellular GSH content. Importantly, GSH ethyl ester reduced the toxic effects of KA, becoming significant at 1 mM (P=0.007 vs. KA-treated group), and was maximal at >/=2.5 mM (P<0.0001). GSH ethyl ester displayed a similar dose-dependence in its ability to counteract KA-induced depletion of cellular GSH. The data strengthen the notion that cellular GSH levels have a fundamental role in KA-induced neurotoxicity.