Caspase-3-like proteases and 6-hydroxydopamine induced neuronal cell death

Richard C. Dodel, Yansheng Du, Kelly R. Bales, Zaodong Ling, Paul M. Carvey, Steven M. Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Neurotoxicity induced by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) is believed to be due, in part, to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or an inhibition of mitochondrial function. However, little is known about the ensuing intracellular events which ultimately result in cell death. Here we show that exposure to relatively low concentrations of 6-OHDA induces apoptosis of cerebellar granule neurons (CGN). 6-OHDA-induced apoptosis of CGN is associated with activation of a caspase-3-like protease. Western blots of cytosolic extracts from 6-OHDA-treated CGN reveal a translocation of cytochrome c from mitochondria to the cytosol, which precedes activation of the protease detected by Ac-DEVD-pNA. DNA laddering can be blocked by caspase inhibitors zVAD-FMK and Ac-DEVD-CHO, however cell death can only be attenuated for a short time period in the presence of these inhibitors. Our data suggest that 6-OHDA-induced apoptosis of CGN involves activation of a caspase-3-like protease. In contrast to the neurotoxicity induced by MPP+, however, the peptide inhibitors zVAD-FMK and Ac-DEVD-CHO can only attenuate early neuronal death induced by 6-OHDA. At later time points, neuronal death lacking DNA laddering occurs even in the presence of the peptide inhibitor zVAD-FMK or Ac-DEVD-CHO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 22 1999


  • 6- Hydroxydopamine
  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase
  • Cerebellar granule cell
  • Cytochrome c
  • Neuronal death
  • Parkinson's disease


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