Caspase-2 Is Upregulated after Sciatic Nerve Transection and Its Inhibition Protects Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons from Apoptosis after Serum Withdrawal

Vigneswara, Vasanthy; Berry, Martin; Logan, Ann; Ahmed, Zubair
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Sciatic nerve (SN) transection-induced apoptosis of dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGN) is one factor determining the efficacy of peripheral axonal regeneration and the return of sensation. Here, we tested the hypothesis that caspase-2 (CASP2) orchestrates apoptosis of axotomised DRGN both in vivo and in vitro by disrupting the local neurotrophic supply to DRGN. We observed significantly elevated levels of cleaved CASP2 (C-CASP2), compared to cleaved caspase-3 (C-CASP3), within TUNEL+DRGN and DRG glia (satellite and Schwann cells) after SN transection. A serum withdrawal cell culture model, which induced 40% apoptotic death in DRGN and 60% in glia, was used to model DRGN loss after neurotrophic factor withdrawal. Elevated C-CASP2 and TUNEL were observed in both DRGN and DRG glia, with C-CASP2 localisation shifting from the cytosol to the nucleus, a required step for induction of direct CASP2-mediated apoptosis. Furthermore, siRNA-mediated downregulation of CASP2 protected 50% of DRGN from apoptosis after serum withdrawal, while downregulation of CASP3 had no effect on DRGN or DRG glia survival. We conclude that CASP2 orchestrates the death of SN-axotomised DRGN directly and also indirectly through loss of DRG glia and their local neurotrophic factor support. Accordingly, inhibiting CASP2 expression is a potential therapy for improving both the SN regeneration response and peripheral sensory recovery.


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