Experimentally evoked seizures can activate the intrinsic mitochondrial cell death pathway, components of which are modulated in the hippocampus of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Bcl-2 family proteins are critical regulators of mitochondrial dysfunction, but their significance in this setting remains primarily untested. Presently, we investigated the mitochondrial pathway and role of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins using a mouse model of seizure-induced neuronal death. Status epilepticus was evoked in mice by intra-amygdala kainic acid, causing cytochrome c release, processing of caspases 9 and 7, and death of ipsilateral hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Seizures caused a rapid decline in hippocampal Bcl-w levels not seen for either Bcl-2 or Bcl-xl. To test whether endogenous Bcl-w was functionally significant for neuronal survival, we investigated hippocampal injury after seizures in Bcl-w-deficient mice. Seizures induced significantly more hippocampal CA3 neuronal loss and DNA fragmentation in Bcl-w-deficient mice compared with wild-type mice. Quantitative electroencephalography analysis also revealed that Bcl-w-deficient mice display a neurophysiological phenotype whereby there was earlier polyspike seizure onset. Finally, we detected higher levels of Bcl-w in hippocampus from temporal lobe epilepsy patients compared with autopsy controls. These data identify Bcl-w as an endogenous neuroprotectant that may have seizure-suppressive functions.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland ->