Acetate mediates alcohol excitotoxicity in dopaminergic-like PC12 cells

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Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology


Neuronal excitotoxicity is the major cause of alcohol-related brain damage, yet the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. Using dopaminergic-like PC12 cells, we evaluated the effect of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) on acetate-induced changes in PC12 cells: cell death, cytosolic calcium, and expression levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα). Treatment of PC12 cells with increasing concentrations of acetate for 4 h caused a dose-dependent increase in the percentage of cells staining positive for cell death using propidium iodide (PI) exclusion and cytosolic reactive oxygen species (ROS) using cell ROX detection analyzed via flow cytometry. The EC50 value for acetate was calculated and found to be 4.40 mM for PI and 1.81 mM for ROS. Ethanol up to 100 mM had no apparent changes in the percent of cells staining positive for PI or ROS. Acetate (6 mM) treatment caused an increase in cytosolic calcium measured in real-time with Fluo-4AM, which was abolished by coapplication with the NMDAR blocker memantine (10 μM). Furthermore, cells treated with acetate (6 mM) for 4 h had increased expression levels of TNFα relative to control, which was abolished by coapplication of memantine (10 μM). Co-application of acetate (6 mM) and memantine had no apparent reduction in acetate-induced cell death. These findings suggest that acetate is capable of increasing cytosolic calcium concentrations and expression levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFα through an NMDAR-dependent mechanism. Cell death from acetate was not reduced through NMDAR blockade, suggesting alternative pathways independent of NMDAR activation for excitotoxicity.

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Copyright © 2018 American Chemical Society. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00189

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ACS Chemical Neuroscience