Status epilepticus induces subcellular changes that may eventually lead to neuronal cell death in the hippocampus. Based on an animal model of status epilepticus, our laboratory showed previously that sustained hippocampal seizure activity activates nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and upregulates nitric oxide synthase (NOS) II gene expression, leading to apoptotic neuronal cell death in the hippocampus. The present study examined the potential modulatory role of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) on NF-κB signaling in the hippocampus following experimental status epilepticus. In Sprague-Dawley rats, kainic acid (KA) was microinjected unilaterally into the hippocampal CA3 subfield to induce prolonged bilateral seizure activity. Expression of HSP70 was elevated as early as 1. h after the elicitation of sustained seizure activity, followed by a progressive elevation that peaked at 24. h. Pretreatment with an antisense oligonucleotide against hsp70 decreased the HSP70 expression, and significantly augmented IκB kinase (IKK) activity and phosphorylation of IκBα, alongside enhanced nuclear translocation and DNA binding activity of NF-κB in the hippocampal CA3 neurons and glial cells. These cellular events were followed by enhanced upregulation of NOS II and peroxynitrite expression 3. h after sustained seizure activity that led to an increase of caspase-3 and DNA fragmentation in the hippocampal CA3 neurons 7. days after experimental status epilepticus. We concluded that HSP70 protects against apoptotic cell death induced by NF-κB activation and NOS II-peroxynitrite signaling cascade in the hippocampal CA3 and glial cells following experimental status epilepticus via suppression of IKK activity and deactivation of IκBα.
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