[14C]Leucine Incorporation into Brain Proteins in Gerbils After Transient Ischemia: Relationship to Selective Vulnerability of Hippocampus


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Prof. K.-A. Hossmann at Abteilung für Experimentelle Neurologie, Max-Planck-Institut für Neurologische Forschung, Gleueler Strasse 50, 5000 Köln 41, F.R.G.


Abstract: Regional [14C]leucine incorporation into brain proteins was studied in gerbils after global ischemia for 5 min and recirculation times of 45 min to 7 days, using a combination of quantitative autoradiography and biochemical analysis. After recirculation for 45 min, incorporated radioactivity was reduced to ∼20–40% of control values in all ischemic brain regions. Specific activity of the tracer, in contrast, was increased, a finding indicating that the reduced incorporation of radioactivity was not due to reduced tracer influx from plasma or a dilution of the tracer by increased proteolysis. After recirculation for 6 h, [14C]leucine incorporation returned to control levels in all regions except the CA1 sector of the hippocampus, where it amounted to <50%. After 1 day, protein synthesis in the CA1 sector returned to ∼70% of control values, followed by a secondary decline to <50% after 3 days and returned to near control values after 7 days. Histological evaluations revealed selective neuronal death in the CA1 sector of the hippocampus after 3 days of recirculation. The complex time course of protein synthesis in the CA1 sector suggests a biphasic mode of injury, which may be related to similar changes of calcium homeostasis. The final return to near normal after CA1 neurons have disappeared is explained by astroglial proliferation and demonstrates that at this time protein synthesis is not a marker of neuronal viability.