Neurotoxicity Research

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 159–169 | Cite as

Extracellular HMGB1 Released by NMDA Treatment Confers Neuronal Apoptosis via RAGE-p38 MAPK/ERK Signaling Pathway

  • Seung-Woo Kim
  • Chae-Moon Lim
  • Jung-Bin Kim
  • Joo-Hyun Shin
  • Sanghyun Lee
  • Minhyung Lee
  • Ja-Kyeong Lee


High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) was originally identified as ubiquitously expressed nonhistone DNA-binding protein, but recently, it was found to act as an endogenous danger molecule, which signals danger and traumatic cell death. Previously, the authors showed that HMGB1 is massively released immediately after an ischemic insult and that it subsequently activates microglia and induces inflammation in the postischemic brain. Here, we showed the endogenous danger molecule-like function of HMGB1 in primary cortical cultures. HMGB1 was found to be accumulated in NMDA-treated primary cortical culture media, and media collected from these cultures were able to induce neuronal cell death when added to fresh primary cortical cultures. However, HMGB1-depleted NMDA-conditioned media produced by HMGB1 siRNA transfection or by preincubation with anti-HMGB1 antibody or with HMGB1 A box failed to induce neuronal cell death. Furthermore, siRNA-mediated HMGB1 knockdown substantially suppressed NMDA- or Zn2+-induced cell death. It was interesting to find that extracellular HMGB1-induced neuronal apoptosis, as evidenced by TUNEL staining and caspase 3 assay in combination with double immunofluorescence staining. A series of RAGE and HMGB1 co-immunoprecipitation experiments in the presence of SB203580 and PD98059 (p38 MAPK and ERK inhibitors, respectively) demonstrated that RAGE-p38 MAPK and RAGE-ERK pathway might underlie extracellular HMGB1-mediated neuronal apoptosis. These results together with our previous reports regarding microglial activation by extracellular HMGB1 indicate that HMGB1 functions as a novel danger signal, which aggravates brain damage via autocrine and paracrine manners.


HMGB1 NMDA-conditioned media Apoptosis Primary cortical culture RAGE 



This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (R01-2007-000-10852-0) and a grant from KOSEF (2009-0065403), Republic of Korea for J-K Lee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seung-Woo Kim
    • 1
  • Chae-Moon Lim
    • 1
  • Jung-Bin Kim
    • 1
  • Joo-Hyun Shin
    • 1
  • Sanghyun Lee
    • 2
  • Minhyung Lee
    • 2
  • Ja-Kyeong Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Center for Advanced Medical Education (BK21 Project)Inha University School of MedicineInchonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Bioengineering, College of EngineeringHanyang UniversitySeoulKorea

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