Mild hypothermia protects the brain from ischemia, but the underlying mechanisms of this effect are not well known. The authors previously found that hypothermia reduces the density of apoptotic cells, but it is not certain whether temperature alters associated biochemical events. Mitochondrial release of cytochrome c has recently been shown to be a key trigger in caspase activation and apoptosis via the intrinsic pathway. Using a model of transient focal cerebral ischemia, the authors determined whether mild hypothermia altered expression of Bcl-2 family proteins, mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, and caspase activation. Mild hypothermia significantly decreased the amount of cytochrome c release 5 hours after the onset of ischemia, but mitochondrial translocation of Bax was not observed until 24 hours. Mild hypothermia did not alter Bcl-2 and Bax expression, and caspase activation was not observed. The present study provides the first evidence that intraischemic mild hypothermia attenuates the release of cytochrome c in the brain, but does not appear to affect other biochemical aspects of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. They conclude that necrotic processes may have been interrupted to prevent cytochrome c release, and that the ameliorative effect of mild hypothermia may be a result of maintaining mitochondrial integrity. Furthermore, the authors show it is unlikely that mild hypothermia alters the intrinsic apoptotic pathway.
View details for Web of Science ID 000172930900004
View details for PubMedID 11807391