Role of Nerve Growth Factor in Oxidanl Homeostasis: Glutathione Metabolism

Zhaohui Pan, Regino Perez‐Polo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Free radicals are generated in the CNS by ongoing oxygen metabolism and biological events associated with injury and inflammation. Increased free radical levels may also persist in some chronic neurological diseases and in the aged. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a member of the neurotrophin family of proteins that can regulate neuronal development, maintenance, and recovery from injury. NGF protected rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells, an adrenal chromaffin-like NGF-responsive cell line, from the oxidant stress accompanying hydrogen peroxide treatment by stimulating GSH levels and enzymes in the GSH metabolism cycle and in the GSH/GSH peroxidase antioxidant redox system, a ubiquitous cellular antioxidant system. Specifically, NGF increased γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GCS) activity, the rate-limiting enzyme for GSH synthesis, by 50% after 9 h and GSH levels by 100% after 24 h of treatment. NGF stimulated GSH peroxidase by 30% after 3 days and glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase by 50% after 2 days. Treatment with NGF and cycloheximide, or actinomycin D, which inhibit protein and RNA synthesis, respectively, blocked the NGF stimulation of GCS and glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase. Increased GSH levels due to NGF treatment were responsible for the significant protection of PC12 cells from hydrogen peroxide-induced stress. Pretreatment of PC12 cells with NGF for 24 h rescued cells from the toxic effects of the extracellular hydrogen peroxide generated by the glucose/glucose oxidase system but did not rescue cells that were subjected to GSH deprivation due to treatment with 10 μM L-buthionine-(S,R)-sulfoximine, an inhibitor of GCS. However, treatment with 10 μM L-buthionine-(S,R)-sulfoximine alone did not affect PC12 cell viability, NGF stimulation of neurite extension, and NGF induction of GCS, GSH peroxidase, and glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity. When GSH levels were measured in PC12 cells that were treated for 24 h with other neurotrophins and growth factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurotrophin-3, epidermal growth factor, insulin-like growth factor-I, and basic fibroblast growth factor, only epidermal growth factor was found to increase GSH levels by 30%. Whereas NGF increased GSH levels in the human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH-SY5Y and the human melanoma A-875 in serum-free medium, addition of fetal calf serum to the medium abolished the NGF effects on GSH levels in the NGF-responsive cell lines, SK-N-SH-SY5Y, A-875, and the CNS C6 rat glioma subclone 2BD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1713-1721
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell death
  • Free radicals
  • Glutathione
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Neuronal survival
  • PC12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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