Experimental apoptosis provides clues about the role of mitochondrial changes in neuronal death.
ABSTRACT A quantitative morphometric study has been carried out in human neuroblastoma SK-N-BE cells to evaluate the ultrastructural features and the metabolic efficiency of mitochondria involved in the early steps of apoptosis. In mitochondria from control and apoptotic cells cytochrome oxidase (COX) activity was estimated by preferential cytochemistry. Number of mitochondria (numeric density: Nv), volume fraction occupied by mitochondria/microm3 of cytoplasm (volume density: Vv), and average mitochondrial volume (V) were calculated for both COX-positive and -negative organelles. The ratio (R) of the cytochemical precipitate area to the overall area of each mitochondrion was evaluated on COX-positive organelles to estimate the inner mitochondrial membrane fraction actively involved in cellular respiration. Following apoptotic stimulus, the whole mitochondrial population showed a significant increase of Nv and Vv, while V was significantly decreased. In COX-positive organelles higher values of Nv were found, V appeared significantly reduced, and Vv was unchanged. R was increased at a nonsignificant extent in apoptotic cells. COX-positive mitochondria accounted for 21% and 35% of the whole population in control and in apoptotic cells, respectively. These findings document that in the early stages of apoptosis the increased fraction of small mitochondria provides an adequate amount of ATP for progression of the programmed cell death and these more efficient organelles appear to represent a reactive response to the loss of metabolically impaired mitochondria. A better understanding of the mitochondrial role in neuronal apoptosis may suggest potential interventions to prevent the extensive nerve cell death typical of neurodegenerative diseases.
- SourceAvailable from: Guido Kroemer[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Both physiological cell death (apoptosis) and, in some cases, accidental cell death (necrosis) involve a two-step process. At a first level, numerous physiological and some pathological stimuli trigger an increase in mitochondrial membrane permeability. The mitochondria release apoptogenic factors through the outer membrane and dissipate the electrochemical gradient of the inner membrane. Mitochondrial permeability transition (PT) involves a dynamic multiprotein complex formed in the contact site between the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes. The PT complex can function as a sensor for stress and damage, as well as for certain signals connected to receptors. Inhibition of PT by pharmacological intervention on mitochondrial structures or mitochondrial expression of the apoptosis-inhibitory oncoprotein Bcl-2 prevents cell death, suggesting that PT is a rate-limiting event of the death process. At a second level, the consequences of mitochondrial dysfunction (collapse of the mitochondrial inner transmembrane potential, uncoupling of the respiratory chain, hyperproduction of superoxide anions, disruption of mitochondrial biogenesis, outflow of matrix calcium and glutathione, and release of soluble intermembrane proteins) entails a bioenergetic catastrophe culminating in the disruption of plasma membrane integrity (necrosis) and/or the activation of specific apoptogenic proteases (caspases) by mitochondrial proteins that leak into the cytosol (cytochrome c, apoptosis-inducing factor) with secondary endonuclease activation (apoptosis). The relative rate of these two processes (bioenergetic catastrophe versus protease and endonuclease activation) determines whether a cell will undergo primary necrosis or apoptosis. The acquisition of the biochemical and ultrastructural features of apoptosis critically relies on the liberation of apoptogenic proteases or protease activators from mitochondria. The fact that mitochondrial events control cell death has major implications for the development of cytoprotective and cytotoxic drugs.Annual Review of Physiology 02/1998; 60:619-42. · 19.55 Impact Factor
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Apoptosis and necrosis are considered conceptually and morphologically distinct forms of cell death. Here, we report that demise of human T cells caused by two classic apoptotic triggers (staurosporin and CD95 stimulation) changed from apoptosis to necrosis, when cells were preemptied of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nuclear condensation and DNA fragmentation did not occur in cells predepleted of ATP and treated with either of the two inducers, although the kinetics of cell death were unchanged. Selective and graded repletion of the extramitochondrial ATP/pool with glucose prevented necrosis and restored the ability of the cells to undergo apoptosis. Pulsed ATP/depletion/repletion experiments also showed that ATP generation either by glycolysis or by mitochondria was required for the active execution of the final phase of apoptosis, which involves nuclear condensation and DNA degradation.Journal of Experimental Medicine 05/1997; 185(8):1481-6. · 13.21 Impact Factor
Article: [Apoptosis in the nervous system].[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is a distinct form of controlled cell degeneration, different from necrosis. It serves multiple physiological functions, such as the control of cell numbers during development, the maintenance of tissue homeostasis and the deletion of abnormal cells. Apoptosis has unique morphological and biochemical features, especially at the nuclear level, in keeping with the idea of the active participation of the cell in its own demise. Gene regulation of apoptosis shows variability among different tissues, particularly regarding the signals that trigger cell death, but shares an effector phase highly conserved accross species. In the nervous system, genes have been identified which either i) promote apoptosis: Bax, Bcl-xS, c-fos, c-jun, p75NGFR and ICE-like proteases, or ii) block apoptosis: Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. In addition, availability of trophic factors and expression of Trk membrane receptors allow for the fine adjustement of viable cells in each neuronal population. In some diseases, neuron loss takes place via apoptosis, whether exclusively or associated with necrosis, especially when cellular insults are of moderate intensity or death occurs in areas of the brain adjacent to necrotic foci. This has been shown in excitotoxicity, X-ray injury and hypoxia-ischemia. Activation of apoptosis occurs also in some neurodegenerative diseases. Infantile spinal muscular atrophy can be the first example of a pediatric hereditary disease where a deletion in the gene of a protein which inhibits neuron apoptosis has a pathogenic role. Last, some central nervous system infections produce abnormal activation of apoptosis.Revista de neurologia 12/1996; 24(135):1356-60. · 1.18 Impact Factor