Astrocyte survival and HSP70 heat shock protein induction following heat shock and acidosis

Purnima Narasimhan, Raymond A. Swanson, Stephen M. Sagar, Frank R Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Although severe acidosis is an important mediator of brain infarction, recent evidence suggests that mild acidosis may protect ischemic cells. The HSP70 heat shock protein is induced by acidosis in cultured cells and in ischemic brain and protects cells against many types of injury. Therefore, this study determined whether induction of heat shock proteins protects cultured astrocytes against acidosis. Brief exposure of cultured cortical astrocytes to acid (pH 5.2 for 40 min) or heat shock (45°C for 40 min) markedly induced hsp70 mRNA and HSP70 protein. HSP70 protein was detected with the C92 monoclonal antibody (Welch and Suhan: J Cell Biol. 103:2035, 1986), which has been shown to recognize the protein product of the full- length rat hsp70 cDNA (Longo et al: J Neurosci Res 36:325, 1993). Heat shock of the cultured cortical astrocytes completely protected the astrocytes from an otherwise lethal heat exposure 24 h later (45°C for 4 h). In contrast, heat pretreatment sensitized the astrocytes to injury from acidosis 24 h later. Acid pretreatment, which markedly induced the HSP70 protein without producing astrocytic cell death, similarly sensitized the cells to injury from acidosis 24 h later (60% survival following pH 5.2 for 3 h versus 90% survival in controls; P < 0.0001). Surprisingly, heat shock pretreatment protected astrocytes against exposure to acid 48 h later (P < 0.05, 1.5-3 h), whereas acid pretreatment had no effect on astrocyte survival 48 h later. Since heat shock did not protect against acidosis at 24 h when HSP70 induction was maximal but did protect at 48 h when HSP70 was markedly diminished, the protective effect of heat shock at 48 h may be related to stress proteins present at 48 h. It is concluded that induction of HSP70 and other heat shock proteins by heat shock protects astrocytes against subsequent lethal heat shock. However, heat shock and acid treatment increase the vulnerability of astrocytes to acidosis 24 h later in spite of the induction of HSP70 heat shock proteins. The finding that heat shock protected astrocytes against acidosis 2 days later may suggest that delayed induction of stress proteins partially protects the astrocytes against damage produced by high concentrations of hydrogen ions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-159
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Glia
  • Stress genes
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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