The cellular and molecular basis of brain stem death remains an enigma. As the origin of a "life-and-death" signal that reflects the progression toward brain stem death, the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) is a suitable neural substrate for mechanistic delineation of this phenomenon. Here, we evaluated the hypothesis that heat shock proteins (HSPs) play a neuroprotective role in the RVLM during brain stem death and delineated the underlying mechanisms, using a clinically relevant animal model that employed the organophosphate pesticide mevinphos (Mev) as the experimental insult. In Sprague-Dawley rats, proteomic, Western blot, and real-time PCR analyses demonstrated that Mev induced de novo synthesis of HSP60 or HSP70 in the RVLM without affecting HSP90 level. Loss-of-function manipulations of HSP60 or HSP70 in the RVLM using antiserum or antisense oligonucleotide potentiated Mev-elicited cardiovascular depression alongside reduced nitric-oxide synthase (NOS) I/protein kinase G signaling, enhanced NOS II/peroxynitrite cascade, intensified nucleosomal DNA fragmentation, elevated cytoplasmic histone-associated DNA fragments or activated caspase-3, and augmented the cytochrome c/caspase-3 cascade of apoptotic signaling in the RVLM. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments further revealed a progressive increase in the complex formed between HSP60 and mitochondrial or cytosolic Bax or mitochondrial Bcl-2 during Mev intoxication, alongside a dissociation of the cytosolic HSP60-Bcl-2 complex. We conclude that HSP60 and HSP70 confer neuroprotection against Mev intoxication by ameliorating cardiovascular depression via an anti-apoptotic action in the RVLM. The possible underlying intracellular processes include enhancing NOS I/protein kinase G signaling and inhibiting the NOS II/peroxynitrite cascade. In addition, HSP60 exerts its effects against apoptosis by blunting Mev-induced activation of the Bax/cytochrome c/caspase-3 cascade.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology