• antioxidant system;
  • apoptosis;
  • cytochrome c release;
  • necrosis;
  • proteolytic system;
  • ROS production


We investigate the death route induced by potassium depletion in cerebellar granule cells in 0–15 h time range and study whether and how mutual relationship occurs between the cell antioxidant and proteolytic system. To achieve this, we incubated cells in the absence or presence of inhibitors of the antioxidant system, including superoxide dismutase and catalase, and of the proteolytic system, consisting of proteasomes and caspases, and investigated whether and how (i) cell survival, (ii) reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and (iii) antioxidant enzyme and caspase-3 activity change as a function of time after the apoptotic stimulus. The involvement of both antioxidant and proteolytic system on cytochrome c release was also investigated. Cell survival was found to increase in the presence of either proteasome or caspase inhibitors. On the contrary, as a result of the antioxidant system impairment, shift from apoptosis to necrosis occurs. We show that the antioxidant system, which exhibits a huge activity increase up to 3 h after apoptosis induction, is subjected to the proteasome-dependent proteolysis and that the increase in the antioxidant system found in the absence of proteasome activity is accompanied by ROS production decrease. Consistently, the early ROS-dependent release of cytochrome c was found to be prevented when the activity of the antioxidant system increased. Finally, caspase-3 activation was prevented by the inhibitors of both antioxidant system and proteasome.