Xenon prevents cellular damage in differentiated PC-12 cells exposed to hypoxia
© Petzelt et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2004
Received: 16 August 2004
Accepted: 08 December 2004
Published: 08 December 2004
The neuroprotective effect of xenon has been demonstrated for glutamatergic neurons. In the present study it is investigated if dopaminergic neurons, i.e. nerve-growth-factor differentiated PC-12 cells, are protected as well against hypoxia-induced cell damage in the presence of xenon.
Pheochromocytoma cells differentiated by addition of nerve growth factor were placed in a N2-saturated atmosphere, a treatment that induced release of dopamine, reaching a maximum after 30 min. By determining extracellular lactate dehydrogenase concentration as marker for concomitant cellular damage, a substantial increase of enzymatic activity was found for N2-treated cells. Replacement of N2 by xenon in such a hypoxic atmosphere resulted in complete protection against cellular damage and prevention of hypoxia-induced dopamine release. Intracellular buffering of Ca2+ using the Ca-chelator 1, 2-bis(2-Aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid tetrakis(acetoxymethyl) ester (BAPTA) reduced the neuroprotective effect of xenon indicating the essential participation of intracellular Ca2+-ions in the process of xenon-induced neuroprotection.
The results presented demonstrate the outstanding property of xenon to protect neuron-like cells in a hypoxic situation.
Originally, hypoxia/ischemia-induced alterations in neuronal function have been attributed to be an over-release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and glutamate. Many studies have been performed on the mechanisms of glutamate-induced neuronal damage [1, 2] but relatively few have investigated the hypoxia-induced damage in dopaminergic neurons [3–6]. In recent years several lines of evidence have suggested that effects other than excitotoxic mechanisms may also participate in hypoxia-induced cell damage such as cortical spreading depression [7, 8]. Rat pheochromocytoma (PC-12) cells are catecholaminergic, excitable cells that have been widely used as an in vitro model for neuronal cells  possessing both D1- and D2-dopamine receptors . In these cells hypoxia causes a transient release of dopamine resulting from a complex cellular response consisting of increased dopamine release and reduced uptake rate. Such increased dopamine concentration has been shown to be associated with cellular damage indicated by an elevated release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) from the cells [6, 11].
Numerous approaches have been undertaken to reduce hypoxia-induced neurotoxicity [2, 12]. The pathological increase of extracellular neurotransmitter concentration presents probably one of the first indicators for such damage although it is not clear to what extent it contributes directly. Thus, a reduction or even complete suppression of such an increase of neurotransmitter concentration after the primary neuronal damage would suggest a high probability for protection from the hypoxic insult. Recently, we have shown that the noble gas xenon prevents in hypoxic cortical neurons hypoxia-induced cell damage and glutamate release [13, 14]. Such neuroprotective potential has been confirmed by Ma et al.  and Wilhelm et al., and related to its property of being an NMDA-receptor antagonist. In the present paper, however, we show that also in the dopaminergic PC-12-system xenon exhibits profound neuroprotective properties for hypoxic cells thus underlining its usefulness as a general neuroprotectant.
Release of dopamine under hypoxic conditions
Hypoxia-induced cellular damage
In order to test if such hypoxia damaged the cells, extracellular LDH was determined after a two-hour period of treatment. A low level of LDH was found in cells kept under normoxic conditions whereas cells kept under nitrogen showed a significant release of LDH indicating severe cellular damage (Fig. 1b). If instead of nitrogen xenon was used to create such hypoxic condition, the LDH level remained at the same low level as in controls.
Effect of the dopamine reuptake inhibitor GBR 1209
Effects of the dopamine receptor antagonists SCH 23390 and sulpiride
Cellular damage induced by external addition of dopamine
Buffering of intracellular Ca2+-ions using BAPTA
Comparison with another dopaminergic cell system
In hypoxia/ischemia a key feature of secondary damage after the primary neuron-damaging event is the over-release of neurotransmitters . Consequently, an interference with the hypoxia-induced release mechanism with respect to its control systems may be extremely useful to reduce cellular damage. The results presented here show that xenon has such properties, namely to prevent cellular damage and neurotransmitter release in a hypoxic situation thus qualifying it as an almost ideal early neuroprotectant. Concerning possible cellular targets for xenon, a first indication for the participation of Ca2+-regulated events was obtained when it was shown that xenon blocked cells in metaphase and that the block could be lifted by artificial small intracellular Ca2+- increases . Since the CaM KII complex is known to play a decisive role in the metaphase/anaphase transition, it was tested if the CaMKII-inhibitor KN-93 had likewise metaphase-blocking properties. Such effects were obtained . It is well known that in dopaminergic differentiated PC-12 cells, the CaMKII complex is involved in the regulation of neurotransmitter release [20–22] as well as its participation in a multitude of other Ca2+-dependent regulatory events . Thus, it appears to be plausible that one of the targets for xenon might be the CaMKII complex, either directly or via interference with other Ca2+-dependent systems. One of those may be the Ca2+/calmodulin-activated calcineurin system that has been implicated in the regulation of monoamine release . Alternatively, xenon might interact upstream of these regulatory systems with other Ca2+-dependent events required to occur in hypoxia-induced cell damage. Such a scenario is suggested by our demonstration that the neuroprotective effect of xenon is strongly reduced if PC-12 cells are loaded with BAPTA. Thus, at present all evidence obtained by us [13, 14, 18, 19] and others [15, 16] establish a complex and composite picture of targets susceptible to xenon including NMDA receptors, Ca2+-regulating and -regulated systems up to the activaton of transcription factors whereby such targets are probably not essentially and sequentially linked to each other.
To summarize briefly our main findings: (1) The presence of xenon blocks hypoxia-induced dopamine release in dopaminergic cells. (2) Hypoxia-induced dopamine increase is caused by an enhanced release of dopamine rather than a reduced uptake of dopamine. (3) When measuring LDH release as a marker of cellular damage, xenon was found to block such release, which suggests that xenon reduces hypoxia-induced cellular damage. (4) Increased extracellular dopamine can damage dopaminergic cells directly. This is mainly mediated by D1 receptor agonism rather than D2. (5) Such direct extracellular dopamine-induced damage can be reduced by the presence of xenon, even when the increase in extracellular dopamine has not been caused by an episode of cellular hypoxia. (6) The above described protective effects of xenon depend on the presence of calcium ions.
Further studies will show if indeed in the hypoxic cell multiple intracellular targets exist for xenon and how they are orchestrated together to result in cellular protection.
Based on the present results obtained with NGF-differentiated PC-12 cells and on the literature cited in this paper, xenon appears to be a neuroprotectant for a broad spectrum of neuronal cells; given its proven non-toxicity based on its long clinical use, it may come close to fulfilling the requirements for an ideal or "gold standard" neuroprotectant.
Rat pheochromocytoma cells (PC-12) were maintained in RPMI 1640 medium containing 5% fetal calf serum, 10% horse serum, at 37°C, 5% CO2. For experiments, cells were seeded in 24-well plates at a density of 1 × 105 cells/well and nerve-growth-factor (Promega, Heidelberg, Germany) was added (0.4 μg/ml) whereupon cells entered differentiation. They were used on day five after the addition of growth factor . Primary dopaminergic cells from rat embryonic brain were prepared as described (26) and used on day 14.
Determination of dopamine and LDH
Hypoxia-treatment was performed as described . Samples from individual wells were taken at the intervals indicated and deproteinated using 5% perchloric acid (1:1 = vol/vol). Supernatants were transferred to Eppendorff tubes and the same volume (0.5 ml) of 0.4 M perchloric acid was added, mixed on vortex and centrifuged (6000 rpm, 3 min) to remove cell debris. Dopamine concentration was determined by high-pressure liquid chromatography (Bio-Tek, Neufahrn, Germany) using an electrochemical detector (Biometra, Göttingen, Germany). Cellular damage after the experiment was assessed by measuring spectrophotometrically the concentration of LDH in the original supernatant, before the addition of perchloric acid (Roche Diagnostics, Mannheim, Germany).
Gases were supplied by AGA-Linde (Berlin, Germany). 1,2-bis(2-Aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid tetrakis(acetoxymethyl) ester (BAPTA-AM) was purchased from Molecular Probes, (Leiden, The Netherlands), and all standard chemical products were obtained from Merck (Berlin, Germany).
All experiments were repeated at least five times, i.e. in five different plates on five different days. The data were presented as means ± SEM. The results of multiple groups were analyzed using one-way ANOVA with Dunnett's multiple comparison post test or two-way ANOVA with Bonferroni posttests using GraphPad Prism version 3.00 for Windows, GraphPad Software, San Diego California USA. Differences with p values less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant.
The partial support of this work by Linde Gas Therapeutics is gratefully acknowledged.
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