Astrocytes perform many functions that protect neurons during stress, including transmitter uptake, metabolic support, and protection from oxidative stress. We asked whether astrocytes overexpressing either the anti-apoptotic genes bcl-2, or bcl-x(L), or the inducible heat shock protein hsp70, could better protect neurons grown with them in co-culture than normal astrocytes or astrocytes expressing β-galactosidase. Retroviral vectors were used to express these genes in primary astrocyte cultures. After antibiotic selection to eliminate untransformed astrocytes, neurons were plated on top of the astrocytes. Overexpression of any of the three genes in astrocytes reduced neuronal injury induced by combined oxygen-glucose deprivation, or glucose deprivation. Hsp70 overexpression reduced glutamate toxicity. As none of the genes studied is thought to be secreted, the likeliest explanation for the protection observed is improved astrocyte function. Copyright (C) 1999.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Nina Radford for providing the hsp70 transgenic mice and Dr. David Vaux for the bcl-2 and lac-z retrovirus. The work was supported in part by NIH grant GM49831 and a Frontiers in Anesthesia Research Award from the International Anesthesia Research Society to R.G.G.
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