Transient global forebrain ischemia induces a prolonged expression of the caspase-3 mRNA in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons

Binhui Ni, Xin Wu, Yuan Su, Diane Stephenson, E. Barry Smalstig, James Clemens, Steven M. Paul

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The authors recently cloned a cDNA for an ICE/CED3-related cysteine protease from rat brain, which is closely related to human CPP32 (now designated caspase-3). In situ hybridization histochemistry revealed a profound developmental regulation of the caspase-3 transcript in rat brain, with relatively high levels of caspase-3 mRNA observed in neurons of the fetal and neonatal brain and low levels of mRNA in neurons of the adult brain. The authors report that transient forebrain ischemia, which results in a delayed apoptotic death of CA1 pyramidal neurons, results in prolonged expression of caspase-3 mRNA in these same pyramidal neurons. Up-regulation of caspase-3 mRNA in CA1 pyramidal neurons is prominent 24 hours after transient global ischemia, and expression is maintained at higher levels for at least 72 hours after ischemia. However, by 96 hours after ischemia, a marked decrease in caspase-3 mRNA expression is observed in CA1 pyramidal neurons, showing severe degenerative changes (e.g., nuclear condensation). By contrast, there is no change in the expression of a closely related member of caspase family, caspase-2, in CA1 pyramidal neurons after global ischemia. Instead, caspase-2 mRNA is induced in lamina layers of cerebral cortex 24 hours after the ischemia. A selective and prolonged induction of the caspase- 3 gene in committed CA1 pyramidal neurons suggests that transcriptional activation of this caspase-3 gene may be involved in the apoptotic cell death cascade of CA l neurons after transient global ischemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-256
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998


  • Caspase-3
  • Cell death
  • Ischemia


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