Reactive oxygen species from human astrocytes induced functional impairment and oxidative damage

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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been shown to be a contributor to aging and disease. ROS also serve as a trigger switch for signaling cascades leading to corresponding cellular and molecular events. In the central nervous system (CNS), microglial cells are likely the main source of ROS production. However, activated astrocytes also appear to be capable of generating ROS. In this study we investigated ROS production in human astrocytes stimulated with interleukin (IL)-1β and interferon (IFN)-γ and its potential harmful effects. Although IFN-γ alone had no effect, it potentiated IL-1β-induced ROS production in a time-dependent manner. One of the sources of ROS in IL-1β-activated astrocytes was from increased superoxide production in mitochondria accompanied by enhanced manganese superoxide dismutase and inhibited catalase expression. NADPH oxidase (NOX) may also contribute to ROS production as astrocytes express NOX isoforms. Glutamate uptake, which represents one of the most important methods of astrocytes to prevent excitotoxicity, was down-regulated in IL-1β-activated astrocytes, and was further suppressed in the presence of IFN-γ; IFN-γ itself exerted minimal effect. Elevated levels of 8-isoprostane in IL-1β ± IFN-γ-activated human astrocytes indicate downstream lipid peroxidation. Pretreatment with diphenyleneiodonium abolished the IL-1β ± IFN-γ-induced ROS production, restored glutamate uptake function and reduced 8-isoprostane to near control levels suggesting that ROS contributes to the dysfunction of activated astrocytes. These results support the notion that dampening activated human astrocytes to maintain the redox homeostasis is vital to preserve their neuroprotective potential in the CNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2148-2159
Number of pages12
JournalNeurochemical Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank Dr. Phillip K. Peterson for guidance. This study was supported in part by United States Public Health Service Grant DA025525.


  • 8-Isoprostane
  • Astrocytes
  • Interleukin 1 beta
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Mitochondria
  • Reactive oxygen species


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