A comparative study of the effect of oxidative stress on the cytoskeleton in human cortical neurons

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Cytoskeleton disruption is a process by which oxidative stress disrupts cellular function. This study compares and contrasts the effect of oxidative stress on the three major cytoskeleton filaments, microfilaments (MFs), microtubule (MT), and vimentin in human cortical neuronal cell line (HCN2). HCN2 cells were treated with 100 μM tertiary butylhydroperoxide (t-BuOOH), a free radical generating neurotoxin for 1, 3, or 6 h. Cell viability studies demonstrated significant cell death although the morphology studies showed that there was a substantial loss in neurites of neurons treated with t-BuOOH for 6 h. Because the cytoskeleton plays a role in neurite outgrowth, the effect of oxidative stress on the cytoskeletal was studied. In neurons subjected to oxidative stress for 30 min or 1 h, there were no major changes in microfilament distribution though there was altered distribution of microtubule and vimentin filaments as compared to controls. However, loss and disruption of all the three cytoskeletal filaments was observed at later times (3 and 6 h), which was confirmed by Western Blot analysis. Further studies were done to measure the gene expression levels of actin, tubulin, and vimentin. Results indicated that the overall loss of the cytoskeletal proteins in neurons treated with free radical generating toxin might not be a direct result of the downregulation of the cytoskeletal genes. This study shows that free radical generation in human neurons leads to the disruption of the cytoskeleton, though there may be a difference in the susceptibility to oxidative stress among the individual components of the cytoskeletal filaments.

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