Neurochemical Research

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 143–152 | Cite as

Protection of Mature Oligodendrocytes by Inhibitors of Caspases and Calpains

  • Joyce A. Benjamins
  • Liljana Nedelkoska
  • Edwin B. George


Mature mouse oligodendrocytes (OLs) are susceptible to death in demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis and in brain injury following neurotrauma, ischemia, or stroke. To understand mechanisms leading to death of mature OLs and develop strategies for protection, we utilized cultures of mature mouse OLs to investigate the role of caspases and calpains in OL cell death mediated by different mechanisms. The agents used were (i) staurosporine, which induces apoptotic death via inhibition of protein kinases; (ii) kainate, which activates non-NMDA glutamate receptors; (iii) thapsigargin, which releases intracellular calcium stores; and (iv) SNAP, which releases active NO species and causes necrotic cell death. Inhibitors blocking primary effector caspases (including caspase 3), the FAS (death receptor)-mediated initiator caspases (including caspase 8), and stress-induced caspases (including caspase 9), were tested for their protective effects. Inhibition of caspases 3, 8, and 9 each robustly protected OLs following insult with staurosporine, thapsigargin, or kainate when added at optimal times. The time of addition of the inhibitors for maximal protection varied with the agent, from 1 h of preincubation before addition of staurosporine to 6 h after addition of kainate. Much less protection was seen for the NO generator SNAP under any condition. The role of calcium in OL death in each model was investigated by chelating extracellular Ca++ with EGTA, and by inhibiting the Ca++-activated calpain proteases. Calcium chelation did not protect against staurosporine, but decreased OL death initiated by kainate, thapsigargin, or NO. The calpain inhibitors PD150606 and calpain inhibitor I protected from cell death initiated by staurosporine, kainate, and thapsigargin, but not from cell death initiated by the NO donor SNAP.

Apoptosis calpains caspases kainate oligodendroglia staurosporine 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyce A. Benjamins
    • 1
  • Liljana Nedelkoska
    • 1
  • Edwin B. George
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyWayne State University School of MedicineDetroit

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