Signaling factors in the mechanism of ammonia neurotoxicity
ABSTRACT Mechanisms involved in hepatic encephalopathy (HE) still remain poorly understood. It is generally accepted that ammonia plays a major role in this disorder, and that astrocytes represent the principal target of ammonia neurotoxicity. In recent years, studies from several laboratories have uncovered a number of factors and pathways that appear to be critically involved in the pathogenesis of this disorder. Foremost is oxidative and nitrosative stress (ONS), which is largely initiated by an ammonia-induced increase in intracellular Ca(2+). Such increase in Ca(2+) activates a number of enzymes that promote the synthesis of reactive oxygen-nitrogen species, including constitutive nitric oxide synthase, NADPH oxidase and phospholipase A2. ONS subsequently induces the mitochondrial permeability transition, and activates mitogen-activated protein kinases and the transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB). These factors act to generate additional reactive oxygen-nitrogen species, to phosphorylate various proteins and transcription factors, and to cause mitochondrial dysfunction. This article reviews the role of these factors in the mechanism of HE and ammonia toxicity with a focus on astrocyte swelling and glutamate uptake, which are important consequences of ammonia neurotoxicity. These pathways and factors provide attractive targets for identifying agents potentially useful in the therapy of HE and other hyperammonemic disorders.
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ABSTRACT: Chronic hepatic encephalopathy (CHE) is a major complication in patients with severe liver disease. Elevated blood and brain ammonia levels have been implicated in its pathogenesis, and astrocytes are the principal neural cells involved in this disorder. Since defective synthesis and release of astrocytic factors have been shown to impair synaptic integrity in other neurological conditions, we examined whether thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), an astrocytic factor involved in the maintenance of synaptic integrity, is also altered in CHE. Cultured astrocytes were exposed to ammonia (NH4Cl, 0.5-2.5 mM) for 1-10 days, and TSP-1 content was measured in cell extracts and culture media. Astrocytes exposed to ammonia exhibited a reduction in intra- and extracellular TSP-1 levels. Exposure of cultured neurons to conditioned media (CM) from ammonia-treated astrocytes showed a decrease in synaptophysin, PSD95 and synaptotagmin levels. CM from TSP-1 overexpressing astrocytes that were treated with ammonia, when added to cultured neurons, reversed the decline in synaptic proteins. Recombinant TSP-1 similarly reversed the decrease in synaptic proteins. Metformin, an agent known to increase TSP-1 synthesis in other cell types also reversed the ammonia-induced TSP-1 reduction. Likewise, we found a significant decline in TSP-1 level in cortical astrocytes, as well as a reduction in synaptophysin content in vivo in a rat model of CHE. These findings suggest that TSP-1 may represent an important therapeutic target for CHE.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.Journal of Neurochemistry 07/2014; DOI:10.1111/jnc.12810 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Astrocyte swelling and the subsequent increase in intracranial pressure and brain herniation are major clinical consequences in patients with acute hepatic encephalopathy. We recently reported that conditioned media from brain endothelial cells (ECs) exposed to ammonia, a mixture of cytokines (CKs) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), when added to astrocytes caused cell swelling. In this study, we investigated the possibility that ammonia and inflammatory agents activate the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in ECs, resulting in the release of factors that ultimately cause astrocyte swelling. We found a significant increase in TLR4 protein expression when ECs were exposed to ammonia, CKs or LPS alone, while exposure of ECs to a combination of these agents potentiate such effects. In addition, astrocytes exposed to conditioned media from TLR4-silenced ECs that were treated with ammonia, CKs or LPS, resulted in a significant reduction in astrocyte swelling. TLR4 protein up-regulation was also detected in rat brain ECs after treatment with the liver toxin thioacetamide, and that thioacetamide-treated TLR4 knock-out mice exhibited a reduction in brain edema. These studies strongly suggest that ECs significantly contribute to the astrocyte swelling/brain edema in acute hepatic encephalopathy, likely as a consequence of increased TLR4 protein expression by blood-borne noxious agents. Ammonia and inflammatory agents, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or cytokines (CKs), activate the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in endothelial cells (ECs) ultimately resulting in astrocyte swelling. TLR4 protein upregulation was detected in rat brain ECs in acute hepatic encephalopathy (AHE), whereas TLR4 knock-out mice exhibited a reduction in brain edema after AHE. These studies suggest that ECs significantly contribute to the astrocyte swelling/brain edema in AHE.Journal of Neurochemistry 11/2013; DOI:10.1111/jnc.12516 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Ammonium (NH4 (+)) leads to chronological life span (CLS) shortening in Saccharomyces cerevisiae BY4742 cells, particularly evident in cells starved for auxotrophy-complementing amino acids (leucine, lysine, and histidine) simultaneously. Here, we report that the effect of NH4 (+) on aging yeast depends on the specific amino acid they are deprived of. Compared with no amino acid starvation, starvation for leucine alone or in combination with histidine resulted in the most pronounced NH4 (+)-induced CLS shortening, whereas starvation for lysine, alone or in combination with histidine resulted in the least sensitivity to NH4 (+). We also show that NH4 (+)-induced CLS shortening is mainly mediated by Tor1p in cells starved for leucine or histidine but by Ras2p in cells starved for lysine, and in nonstarved cells. Sch9p protected cells from the effect of NH4 (+) under all conditions tested (starved or nonstarved cells), which was associated with Sch9p-dependent Hog1p phosphorylation. Our data show that NH4 (+) toxicity can be modulated through manipulation of the specific essential amino acid supplied to cells and of the conserved Ras2p, Tor1p, and Sch9p regulators, thus providing new clues to the development of environmental interventions for CLS extension and to the identification of new therapeutic targets for diseases associated with hyperammonemia.Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 08/2013; 2013:161986. DOI:10.1155/2013/161986 · 3.36 Impact Factor