Role of oxidative stress in intermittent hypoxia-induced immediate early gene activation in rat PC12 cells

Guoxiang Yuan, Gautam Adhikary, Andrew A. McCormick, John Holcroft, Ganesh K. Kumar, Nanduri R. Prabhakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

112 Scopus citations


Intermittent hypoxia (IH) occurs in many pathophysiological conditions. The molecular mechanisms associated with IH, however, have received little attention. Previous studies have reported that the c-fos gene via formation of activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor contributes to adaptive responses to continuous hypoxia. In the present study, using a cell culture model we examined whether IH activates c-fos and AP-1 and if so, by what mechanisms. Experiments were performed on rat phaeochromocytoma cells exposed to 21% O2 (normoxia) or 60 and 120 cycles of IH, each cycle consisting 15 s of hypoxia followed by 4 min of normoxia. IH resulted in a significant elevation of c-fos mRNA as well as transcriptional activation. IH was more potent and induced a longer lasting activation of c-fos than comparable cumulative duration of continuous hypoxia. IH increased AP-1 activity and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA, an AP-1-regulated downstream gene, and these effects were prevented by antisense c-fos. Superoxide dismutase mimetic, a potent scavenger of superoxide anions, prevented IH-induced c-fos, AP-1 and TH activations. IH increased superoxide anion levels in mitochondria as evidenced by decreased aconitase enzyme activity and increased levels of hydrogen peroxide, a stable dismutated product of superoxide anions. Complex I of the mitochondrial electron transport chain was markedly inhibited in IH exposed cells. Pharmacological inhibitors of complex I mimicked the effects of IH during normoxia and occluded the effects of IH on c-fos activation, suggesting the involvement of the mitochondrial electron transport chain in the generation of superoxide anions during IH. These results suggest IH-induced c-fos-mediated transcriptional activation involves oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-783
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 15 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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