Molecular Mechanisms of Apoptosis in Cerebral Ischemia: Multiple Neuroprotective Opportunities
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Cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury triggers multiple and distinct but overlapping cell signaling pathways, which may lead to cell survival or cell damage. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that besides necrosis, apoptosis do contributes significantly to the cell death subsequent to I/R injury. Both extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways play a vital role, and upon initiation, these pathways recruit downstream apoptotic molecules to execute cell death. Caspases and Bcl-2 family members appear to be crucial in regulating multiple apoptotic cell death pathways initiated during I/R. Similarly, inhibitor of apoptosis family of proteins (IAPs), mitogen-activated protein kinases, and newly identified apoptogenic molecules, like second mitochondrial-activated factor/direct IAP-binding protein with low pI (Smac/Diablo), omi/high-temperature requirement serine protease A2 (Omi/HtrA2), X-linked mammalian inhibitor of apoptosis protein-associated factor 1, and apoptosis-inducing factor, have emerged as potent regulators of cellular apoptotic/antiapoptotic machinery. All instances of cell survival/death mechanisms triggered during I/R are multifaceted and interlinked, which ultimately decide the fate of brain cells. Moreover, apoptotic cross-talk between major subcellular organelles suggests that therapeutic strategies should be optimally directed at multiple targets/mechanisms for better therapeutic outcome. Based on the current knowledge, this review briefly focuses I/R injury-induced multiple mechanisms of apoptosis, involving key apoptotic regulators and their emerging roles in orchestrating cell death programme. In addition, we have also highlighted the role of autophagy in modulating cell survival/death during cerebral ischemia. Furthermore, an attempt has been made to provide an encouraging outlook on emerging therapeutic approaches for cerebral ischemia.