The role of superoxide and nuclear factor-κB signaling in N-Methyl-D-aspartate-induced necrosis and apoptosis

Justin McInnis, Cheng Wang, Noelle Anastasio, Mikael Hultman, Yanping Ye, Daniela Salvemini, Kenneth M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated cell death is complex, probably involving elements of necrosis and apoptosis. The mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are incompletely understood but have been suggested to involve reactive oxygen species such as nitric oxide and superoxide anion (O 2 ·-) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling. In this study, we used a selective nonpeptidyl superoxide dismutase mimetic (M40403) and SN50, a peptide inhibitor of NF-κB translocation, to investigate the role of O 2 ·- and the potential downstream signaling molecules in cell death induced by activation of the NMDA receptor. Application of NMDA to a mixed neuronal/glial forebrain culture resulted in an early increase in the release of cytoplasmic lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which peaked at 4 h. This was followed by a reduction in mitochondrial metabolism of the dye MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazole-2-yl)-2,5,diphenyltetrazolium bromide] that continued to decrease throughout the 20-h exposure. A substantial increase in DNA fragmentation as measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) specific for DNA-associated histone proteins (nucleosomes) was observed at 7 and 20 h. M40403 and SN50 blocked NMDA-induced changes in LDH release at 2, 4, and 20 h, MTT metabolism at 4 and 20 h, and DNA fragmentation at 20 h as measured by the ELISA and by an increase in terminal dUTP-nick end labeling. M40403 also prevented NMDA-induced nuclear transport of NF-κB and increased expression of Bax relative to Bcl-X L. SN50 was also able to block NMDA-induced cell death as well as the increased Bax/Bcl-X L ratio. Time course studies and experiments with SN50 and M40403 suggest that O 2 ·- production and NF-κB translocation may be involved in necrosis and apoptosis, but the latter also requires an increased expression of Bax. The ability of M40403 to prevent NMDA-induced cell death relatively early in this cascade suggests its potential therapeutic utility in central nervous systems diseases such as stroke that are associated with increased NMDA receptor-mediated production of O 2 ·-.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-487
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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