2019 Volume 42 Issue 1 Pages 94-102
Glutamate-mediated cytotoxicity has been implicated in the pathogenesis of neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. In this study, we investigated the protective effects of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), a naturally occurring thiol antioxidant, on glutamate-induced cytotoxicity in cultured C6 astroglial cells. Exposure to high-dose glutamate (10 mM) caused oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction through the elevation of reactive oxygen species, depletion of glutathione, and loss of the mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm). Pretreatment with ALA (200 µM), however, significantly inhibited the glutamate-induced oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. ALA pretreatment dose-dependently suppressed glutamate-induced apoptotic events including altered nuclear morphology and activation of caspase-3. In addition, ALA significantly attenuated glutamate-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers; namely, glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78), activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6), protein kinase regulated by RNA (PKR)-like ER-associated kinase (PERK), eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha (eIF2α), inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), CCAAT/enhancer binding protein homologous protein (CHOP), and caspase-12. We confirmed that CHOP and caspase-12 are key mediators of glutamate-induced ER stress. Furthermore, exposure of the cells to a caspase-12-specific inhibitor and CHOP small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) led to restoration of the ΔΨm that was damaged by glutamate treatment. These results suggest that ALA can effectively suppress oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and ER stress in astroglial cells.