Cathepsin D Plays a Crucial Role in the Trimethyltin-Induced Hippocampal Neurodegeneration Process

Sabrina Ceccariglia, Anna D'Altocolle, Aurora Del Fa' Gangitano, Fabrizio Pizzolante, E Caccia, Fabrizio Michetti, Carlo Gangitano

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Trimethyltin chloride (TMT) is known to produce neuronal damage in the rat hippocampus, especially in the CA1/CA3 subfields, together with reactive astrogliosis. Previous studies indicate that in cultured rat hippocampal neurons the Ca2 cytosolic increase induced by TMT is correlated with apoptotic cell death, although some molecular aspects of the hippocampal neurodegeneration induced by this neurotoxicant still remain to be clarified. Cathepsin D (Cat D) is a lysosomal aspartic protease involved in some neurodegenerative processes and also seems to play an important role in the processes that regulate apoptosis. We investigated the specific activity and cellular expression of Cat D in the rat hippocampus in vivo and in cultured organotypic rat hippocampal slices. The role of Cat D in cell death processes and the mechanisms controlling Cat D were also investigated. Cat D activity was assayed in hippocampus homogenates of control and TMT-treated rats. In order to visualize the distribution of Cat D immunoreactivity in the hippocampus, double-label immunofluorescence for Cat D and Neu N, GFAP, OX42 was performed. In addition, in order to clarify the possible relationship between Cat D activity, neuronal calcium overload and neuronal death processes, organotypic hippocampal cultures were also treated with a Cat D inhibitor (Pepstatin A) or Calpain inhibitor (Calpeptin) or an intracellular Ca2 chelator (BAPTA-AM) in the presence of TMT. TMT treatment in rat hippocampus induced high levels of Cat D activity both in vivo and in vitro, in glial cells and in CA3 neurons, where a marked TMT-induced neuronal loss also occurred. Cat D is actively involved in CA3 neuronal death and the protease increase is a calcium-Calpain dependent phenomenon
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Cathepsin D
  • Trimethyltin
  • hippocampus
  • neurodegeneration
  • organotypic culture


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