Excitotoxic and post-ischemic neurodegeneration: Involvement of transglutaminases
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Neurodegeneration induced by excitotoxicity is a common feature in various neurological disorders. This pathological condition is caused by prolonged stimulation of glutamate receptor subtypes, followed by both intracellular Ca2+ overload and activation of specific genes, resulting in synthesis of enzymes involved in cell stress response.
Using experimental in vitro models of excitotoxicity, we demonstrated that glutamate exposure up-regulated tissue transglutaminase in primary cultures of both cerebellar granule cells and astrocytes. These changes were consequent to receptor-mediated Ca2+ influx, as demonstrated by the inhibition with selective antagonists, MK-801 and GYKI 52466. Early increases in different transglutaminase isoforms were also observed in global cerebral ischemia, which closely resembles neuronal damage caused by NMDA receptor activation.
These findings agree with a postulated role for transglutaminases in molecular mechanisms of several neurodegenerative diseases. Indeed, increased cross-linking reactions could be of pathologic relevance, as part of biochemical changes observed in neurological disorders.
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