1-Methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-induced apoptosis and mitochondrial oxidant generation: Role of transferrin-receptor-dependent iron and hydrogen peroxide

Shasi V. Kalivendi, Srigiridhar Kotamraju, Sonya Cunningham, Tiesong Shang, Cecilia J. Hillard, B. Kalyanaraman

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114 Scopus citations


1-Methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) is a neurotoxin used in cellular models of Parkinson's Disease. Although intracellular iron plays a crucial role in MPP+-induced apoptosis, the molecular signalling mechanisms linking iron, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and apoptosis are still unknown. We investigated these aspects using cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) and human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. MPP+ enhanced caspase 3 activity after 24 h with significant increases as early as 12 h after treatment of cells. Pre-treatment of CGNs and neuroblastoma cells with the metalloporphyrin antioxidant enzyme mimic, Fe(III)tetrakis(4-benzoic acid)porphyrin (FeTBAP), completely prevented the MPP+-induced caspase 3 activity as did overexpression of glutathione peroxidase (GPx1) and pre-treatment with a lipophilic, cell-permeable iron chelator [N,N′-bis-(2-hydroxybenzyl)ethylenediamine-N,N′-diacetic acid, HBED]. MPP+ treatment increased the number of TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end-labelling)-positive cells which was completely blocked by pre-treatment with FeTBAP. MPP+ treatment significantly decreased the aconitase and mitochondrial complex I activities; pre-treatment with FeTBAP, HBED and GPx1 overexpression reversed this effect. MPP+ treatment increased the intracellular oxidative stress by 2-3-fold, as determined by oxidation of dichlorodihydrofluorescein and dihydroethidium (hydroethidine). These effects were reversed by pre-treatment of cells with FeTBAP and HBED and by GPx1 overexpression. MPP+-treatment enhanced the cell-surface transferrin receptor (TfR) expression, suggesting a role for TfR-induced iron uptake in MPP+ toxicity. Treatment of cells with anti-TfR antibody (IgA class) inhibited MPP+-induced caspase activation. Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase activity did not affect caspase 3 activity, apoptotic cell death or ROS generation by MPP+. Overall, these results suggest that MPP+-induced cell death in CGNs and neuroblastoma cells proceeds via apoptosis and involves mitochondrial release of ROS and TfR-dependent iron.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-164
Number of pages14
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Caspase 3
  • Glutathione peroxidase
  • Metalloporphyrin
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Oxidative stress
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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