Geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate, an isoprenoid of mevalonate cascade, is a critical compound for rat primary cultured cortical neurons to protect the cell death induced by 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibition

T Tanaka, I Tatsuno, D Uchida, I Moroo, H Morio, S Nakamura, Y Noguchi, T Yasuda, M Kitagawa, Y Saito, A Hirai
Journal of Neuroscience 2000 April 15, 20 (8): 2852-9
We investigated the role of the intrinsic mevalonate cascade in the neuronal cell death (NCD) induced by the inhibition of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase in rat primary cortical neurons cultured from the brains of 17-d-old fetal SD rats. HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors induced NCD [HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor-induced NCD (H-NCD)] in time- and dose-dependent manners. The apoptotic characteristics were revealed by the formation of the DNA ladder and by the electron microscopical observation. During the progression of H-NCD, p53 was induced followed by the expression of Bax. Although the mevalonate completely inhibited H-NCD, the cholesterol did not. Thus, we examined two major metabolites of mevalonate, geranylgeranyl-pyrophosphate (GGPP) and farnesyl-pyrophosphate (FPP), using a novel liposome system for uptake into the cells. GGPP, not FPP, prohibited H-NCD with inhibition of the induction of p53 and Bax. The inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase decreased the amount of membrane-associated Rho small GTPase families, but not Ras small GTPase, and GGPP restored the blockage by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor in the translocation or redistribution of Rho small GTPase families to membrane. These data indicated that (1) the inhibition of the intrinsic mevalonate cascade induces the apoptotic NCD with the induction of p53 followed by that of Bax, (2) the inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase concomitantly causes blockage of the translocation or redistribution of Rho small GTPase families, not Ras small GTPase, to membrane, and (3) GGPP, not FPP, is one of the essential metabolites in the mevalonate cascade for protecting neurons from H-NCD.

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