Ethanol impairs insulin-stimulated mitochondrial function in cerebellar granule neurons
- Cite this article as:
- de la Monte, S., Neely, T., Cannon, J. et al. CMLS, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2001) 58: 1950. doi:10.1007/PL00000829
Ethanol impairs insulin-stimulated survival and mitochondrial function in immature proliferating neuronal cells due to marked inhibition of downstream signaling through PI3 kinase. The present study demonstrates that, in contrast to immature neuronal cells, the major adverse effect of chronic ethanol exposure (50 mM) in post-mitotic rat cerebellar granule neurons is to inhibit insulin-stimulated mitochondrial function (MTT activity, MitoTracker Red fluorescence, and cytochrome oxidase immunoreactivity). Ethanol-impaired mitochondrial function was associated with increased expression of the p53 and CD95 pro-apoptosis genes, reduced Calcein AM retention (a measure of membrane integrity), increased SYTOX Green and propidium iodide uptake (indices of membrane permeability), and increased oxidant production (dihydrorosamine fluorescence and H2O2 generation). The findings of reduced membrane integrity and mitochondrial function in short-term (24 h) ethanol-exposed neurons indicate that these adverse effects of ethanol can develop rapidly and do not require chronic neurotoxic injury. A role for caspase activation as a mediator of impaired mitochondrial function was demonstrated by the partial rescue observed in cells that were pre-treated with broad-spectrum caspase inhibitors. Finally, we obtained evidence that the inhibitory effects of ethanol on mitochondrial function and membrane integrity were greater in insulin-stimulated compared with nerve growth factor-stimulated cultures. These observations suggest that activation of insulin-independent signaling pathways, or the use of insulin sensitizer agents that enhance insulin signaling may help preserve viability and function in neurons injured by gestational exposure to ethanol.