[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pneumococcal meningitis causes apoptosis of developing neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. The death of these cells is accompanied with long-term learning and memory deficits in meningitis survivors. Here, we studied the role of the PI3K/Akt (protein kinase B) survival pathway in hippocampal apoptosis in a well-characterized infant rat model of pneumococcal meningitis. Meningitis was accompanied by a significant decrease of the PI3K product phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP(3)) and of phosphorylated (i.e., activated) Akt in the hippocampus. At the cellular level, phosphorylated Akt was decreased in both the granular layer and the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus, the region where the developing neurons undergo apoptosis. Protein levels and activity of PTEN, the major antagonist of PI3K, were unaltered by infection, suggesting that the observed decrease in PIP(3) and Akt phosphorylation is a result of decreased PI3K signaling. Treatment with the PTEN inhibitor bpV(pic) restored Akt activity and significantly attenuated hippocampal apoptosis. Co-treatment with the specific PI3K inhibitor LY294002 reversed the restoration of Akt activity and attenuation of hippocampal apoptosis, while it had no significant effect on these parameters on its own. These results indicate that the inhibitory effect of bpV(pic) on apoptosis was mediated by PI3K-dependent activation of Akt, strongly suggesting that bpV(pic) acted on PTEN. Treatment with bpV(pic) also partially inhibited the concentration of bacteria and cytokines in the CSF, but this effect was not reversed by LY294002, indicating that the effect of bpV(pic) on apoptosis was independent of its effect on CSF bacterial burden and cytokine levels. These results indicate that the PI3K/Akt pathway plays an important role in the death and survival of developing hippocampal neurons during the acute phase of pneumococcal meningitis.
Neurobiology of Disease 09/2010; 41(1):201-8. · 5.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pneumococcal meningitis is associated with caspase 3-dependent apoptosis of recently post-mitotic immature neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. The death of these cells is implicated in the learning and memory deficits in patients surviving the disease. The stress-activated protein kinase c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) has been shown to be an important mediator of caspase 3-dependent neuronal apoptosis. However, whether JNK is involved in hippocampal apoptosis caused by pneumococcal meningitis has so far not been investigated. Here we show in a neonatal rat model of pneumococcal meningitis that JNK3 but not JNK1 or JNK2 is activated in the hippocampus during the acute phase of infection. At the cellular level, JNK3 activation was accompanied in the dentate gyrus by markedly increased phosphorylation of its major downstream target c-Jun in early immature (Hu-positive) neurons, but not in migrating (doublecortin-positive) neurons, the cells that do undergo apoptosis. These findings suggested that JNK may not be involved in pneumococcal meningitis-induced hippocampal apoptosis. Indeed, although intracerebroventricular administration of D-JNKI-1 or AS601245 (two highly specific JNK inhibitors) inhibited c-Jun phosphorylation and protein expression in the hippocampus, hippocampal apoptosis was unaffected. Collectively, these results demonstrate that JNK does not mediate hippocampal apoptosis in pneumococcal meningitis, and that JNK may be involved in processes unrelated to apoptosis in this disease.
Neurobiology of Disease 08/2008; 32(1):142-50. · 5.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is neuroprotective in animal models of acute brain injury such as caused by bacterial meningitis. However, the mechanism(s) by which NAC exerts neuroprotection is unclear. Gene expression of endothelin-1 (ET-1), which contributes to cerebral blood flow decline in acute brain injury, is partially regulated by reactive oxygen species, and thus a potential target of NAC. We therefore examined the effect of NAC on tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha-induced ET-1 production in cerebrovascular endothelial cells. NAC dose dependently inhibited TNF-alpha-induced preproET-1 mRNA upregulation and ET-1 protein secretion, while upregulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) was unaffected. Intriguingly, NAC had no effect on the initial activation (i.e., IkappaB degradation, nuclear p65 translocation, and Ser536 phosphorylation) of NF-kappaB by TNF-alpha. However, transient inhibition of NF-kappaB DNA binding suggested that NAC may inhibit ET-1 upregulation by inhibiting (a) parallel pathway(s) necessary for full transcriptional activation of NF-kappaB-mediated ET-1 gene expression. Similar to NAC, the MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126, the p38 inhibitor SB203580, and the protein kinase inhibitor H-89 selectively inhibited ET-1 upregulation without affecting nuclear p65 translocation, suggesting that NAC inhibits ET-1 upregulation via inhibition of mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase (MSK). Supporting this notion, cotreatment with NAC inhibited the TNF-alpha-induced rise in MSK1 and MSK2 kinase activity, while siRNA knock-down experiments showed that MSK2 is the predominant isoform involved in TNF-alpha-induced ET-1 upregulation.
Free Radical Biology and Medicine 12/2006; 41(9):1372-83. · 5.27 Impact Factor