Bcl-w is a newly described cell death suppressor member of the Bcl-2 gene family. As these genes may have a role in the outcome of ischemic brain injury, the regional expression of Bcl-w protein in rat brain was examined at 6 to 72 hours after 90 minutes of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Bcl-w protein, although constitutively expressed at low levels in nonischemic brain, was found to be overexpressed in ischemic brain at all time points studied. Up-regulation of Bcl-w protein was particularly abundant in the penumbral region of the cortex and mainly in cells lacking DNA fragmentation. In the cortical penumbra, Bcl-w protein was detected predominantly in neurons and showed mitochondrial localization, as determined using double-label immunohistochemistry. Bcl-w expression was also detectable, to a lesser extent, in reactive astrocytes in the infarct border zone and in microvessel walls in the infarct regions. At the mechanistic level, incubation of isolated brain mitochondria with the addition of recombinant Bax or high concentration of calcium resulted in release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria. In the presence of recombinant Bcl-w protein, however, the release of cytochrome c induced by Bax or calcium was largely inhibited. Further, recombinant Bcl-w protein inhibited calcium-induced loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential, indicative of permeability transition, in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that Bcl-w may be an endogenous neuroprotectant against ischemic neuronal death and that, like its analogues such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-x-long, Bcl-w may achieve this protection via the mitochondrial death-regulatory pathway.
- Cerebral ischemia
- Cytochrome c
- Mitochondrial permeability transition
- Neuronal apoptosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine