Global ischemia induces apoptosis-associated genes in hippocampus

Jari Honkaniemi, Stephen M. Massa, Mary Breckinridge, Frank R Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Using in situ hybridization, Northern blotting and RT-PCR we studied the post-ischemic expression of bcl-2, bcl-x, bax and ICE. One day following 5 min or 10 min of global ischemia bcl-2 and bcl-x mRNAs were induced in CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons while bar was unchanged. By 72 h after ischemia the expression of bcl-2, bcl-x and bar mRNAs decreased in CA1. The large isoform of bcl-x (bcl-x(L)), detected using RT-PCR, decreased in whole hippocampus by 24-72 h after ischemia relative to the putative short (bcl-x(S)) and transmembrane deleted (bcl-x(ΔTM)) forms. Oligonucleotides to interleukin-1β convertase (ICE), which detected the expected 2-kb transcript and two lesser 1.5- and 3-kb hybridizing species, demonstrated slight mRNA induction in the CA1 region at 72 h following ischemia. DNA nick end-labeling at 3 days following ischemia showed DNA fragmentation in neurons limited to the CA1 region of hippocampus following 5 min ischemia, while DNA fragmentation was detected in CA1, CA3, dentate gyrus and cortical neurons following 10 min ischemia. The data support the view that hippocampal neurons might undergo an apoptosis-like death after global ischemia. Since global ischemia decreases total protein synthesis especially in the CA1 region, the increases in bcl-2 mRNA levels may not necessarily lead to increased BCl-2 protein levels. This may explain why the CA1 neurons die despite the prominent induction of the protective bcl-2 gene. The observed decrease by 24 h in the bcl-x(L)/bcl-x(S) ratio which preceded DNA fragmentation may participate in the cell death produced by ischemia. However, because of the ischemia-induced decrease in total protein synthesis, the decreased bcl-x(L)/bcl-x(S) ratio does not necessarily lead to a changed ratio in the amount of the appropriate proteins. Since ICE-like mRNA was induced at 72 h when the CA1 neurons were dead, the significance of this ICE-like mRNA induction remains unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • bax
  • bcl-2
  • bcl-x
  • DNA fragmentation
  • Interleukin-1β converting enzyme
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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