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Stroke. 2003 Oct;34(10):2489-94. Epub 2003 Sep 18.

Glutathione peroxidase overexpression inhibits cytochrome C release and proapoptotic mediators to protect neurons from experimental stroke.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr, Stanford, Calif 94305-5327, USA.



Ischemic injury and reperfusion increases superoxide (O2-) production and reduces the ability of neurons to scavenge free radicals, leading to the release of cytochrome c and apoptosis. Here we test whether overexpression with the use of gene therapy of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase (Gpx), delivered before or after experimental stroke, is protective against ischemic injury.


Sixty-two rats underwent middle cerebral artery occlusion for 1 hour. Defective herpes simplex viral vectors expressing Gpx/lacZ or lacZ alone (control) were delivered into each striatum 12 hours before or 2 or 5 hours after ischemia onset.


Striatal neuron survival at 2 days was improved by 36% when Gpx was delivered 12 hours before ischemia onset, 26% with a 2-hour delay, and 25% when delayed 5 hours. After ischemia, Gpx overexpression significantly reduced cytosolic translocation of cytochrome c and increased the proportion of Bcl-2-positive cells compared with cells transfected with control vector. Bax and activated caspase-3, while present in control-transfected neurons after ischemia, were rarely noted in Gpx-transfected cells.


Expression from these herpes simplex viral vectors begins 4 to 6 hours after injection, which suggests a 9- to 11-hour temporal therapeutic window for Gpx. This is the first study to show that overexpression of Gpx with the use of gene therapy protects against experimental stroke, even with postischemic transfection, and the neuroprotective mechanism involves attenuation of apoptosis-related events.

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