Inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors increases paraoxon-induced apoptosis in cultured neurons.Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2005 Oct 01; 208(1):57-67.TA
Organophosphorus (OP) compounds, used as insecticides and chemical warfare agents, are potent neurotoxins. We examined the neurotoxic effect of paraoxon (O,O-diethyl O-p-nitrophenyl phosphate), an organophosphate compound, and the role of NMDA receptors as a mechanism of action in cultured cerebellar granule cells. Paraoxon is neurotoxic to cultured rat cerebellar granule cells in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Cerebellar granule cells are less sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of paraoxon on day in vitro (DIV) 4 than neurons treated on DIV 8. Surprisingly, the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, MK-801, enhances paraoxon-mediated neurotoxicity suggesting that NMDA receptors may play a protective role. Pretreatment with a subtoxic concentration of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) [100 microM] protects about 40% of the vulnerable neurons that would otherwise die from paraoxon-induced neurotoxicity. Moreover, addition of a neuroprotective concentration of NMDA 3 h after treatment with paraoxon provides the same level of protection. Because paraoxon-mediated neuronal cell death is time-dependent, we hypothesized that apoptosis may be involved. Paraoxon increases apoptosis about 10-fold compared to basal levels. The broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor (Boc-D-FMK) and the caspase-9-specific inhibitor (Z-LEHD-FMK) protect against paraoxon-mediated apoptosis, paraoxon-stimulated caspase-3 activity and neuronal cell death. MK-801 increases, whereas NMDA blocks paraoxon-induced apoptosis and paraoxon-stimulated caspase-3 activity. These results suggest that activation of NMDA receptors protect neurons against paraoxon-induced neurotoxicity by blocking apoptosis initiated by paraoxon.