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Drugs of Abuse Induce Apoptotic Features in PC12 Cells

Authors

  • M T. OLIVEIRA,

    1. Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, University of Coimbra, 3004–504 Coimbra, Portugal
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  • A C. REGO,

    1. Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, University of Coimbra, 3004–504 Coimbra, Portugal
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  • TR A. MACEDO,

    1. Institute of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, 3004–504 Coimbra, Portugal
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  • C R. OLIVEIRA

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, University of Coimbra, 3004–504 Coimbra, Portugal
    • Address for correspondence: Prof. Catarina Oliveira, M.D., Ph.D., Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of Coimbra, University of Coimbra, 3004-504 Coimbra, Portugal. Voice: +351-239-820190; fax: +351-239-822776. catarina@cnc.cj.uc.pt

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Abstract

Abstract: Drugs of abuse induce the release of dopamine in the central nervous system, particularly in the mesolimbic-mesocortical pathway. As dopamine may act as a neurotoxin, in this study, we analyzed the effects of the drugs of abuse, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamine, on the neurodegeneration of PC12 cells, a dopaminergic cell line, by evaluating the activity of caspase-3 and mitochondrial cytochrome c release. All the drugs were shown to induce caspase-3 activation, similarly to staurosporine, a classical inducer of apoptotic cell death. Furthermore, like staurosporine, the drugs of abuse induced a decrease in mitochondrial cytochrome c content, suggesting the involvement of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.

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