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Dexamethasone enhances glutamine synthetase activity and reduces N-methyl-D-aspartate neurotoxicity in mixed cultures of neurons and astrocytes

INSERM U 919, UMR CNRS 6232, Centre Cyceron, BP 5229, 14074 Caen Cedex, France

Special Issues: Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Astrocytes are claimed to protect neurons against excitotoxicity by clearing glutamate from the extracellular space and rapidly converting it into glutamine. Glutamine, is then released into the extracellular medium, taken up by neurons and transformed back into glutamate which is then stored into synaptic vesicles. Glutamine synthetase (GS), the key enzyme that governs this glutamate/glutamine cycle, is known to be upregulated by glucocorticoids. In the present work we have thus studied in parallel the effects of dexamethasone on glutamine synthetase activity and NMDA-induced neuronal death in cultures derived from the brain cortex of murine embryos. We showed that dexamethasone was able to markedly enhance GS activity in cultures of astrocytes but not in near pure neuronal cultures. The pharmacological characteristics of the dexamethasone action strongly suggest that it corresponds to a typical receptor-mediated effect. We also observed that long lasting incubation (72 h) of mixed astrocyte-neuron cultures in the presence of 100 nM dexamethasone significantly reduced the toxicity of NMDA treatment. Furthermore we demonstrated that methionine sulfoximine, a selective inhibitor of GS, abolished the dexamethasone-induced increase in GS activity and also markedly potentiated NMDA toxicity. Altogether these results suggest that dexamethasone may promote neuroprotection through a stimulation of astrocyte glutamine synthetase.
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Keywords mouse astrocytes; dexamethasone; glutamine synthetase; NMDA-excitotoxicity; methionine sulfoximine; glutamate uptake

Citation: Edith Debroas, Carine Ali, Dominique Duval. Dexamethasone enhances glutamine synthetase activity and reduces N-methyl-D-aspartate neurotoxicity in mixed cultures of neurons and astrocytes. AIMS Molecular Science, 2015, 2(2): 175-189. doi: 10.3934/molsci.2015.2.175

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Copyright Info: 2015, Dominique Duval, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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