Potentiation of Lead-induced Cell Death in PC12 Cells by Glutamate: Protection by N-acetylcysteine Amide (NACA), a Novel Thiol Antioxidant


Oxidative stress has been implicated as an important factor in many neurological diseases. Oxidative toxicity in a number of these conditions is induced by excessive glutamate release and subsequent glutamatergic neuronal stimulation. This, in turn, causes increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, and neuronal damage. Recent studies indicate that the glutamatergic neurotransmitter system is involved in lead-induced neurotoxicity. Therefore, this study aimed to (1) investigate the potential effects of glutamate on lead-induced PC12 cell death and (2) elucidate whether the novel thiol antioxidant N-acetylcysteine amide (NACA) had any protective abilities against such cytotoxicity. Our results suggest that glutamate (1 mM) potentiates lead-induced cytotoxicity by increased generation of ROS, decreased proliferation (MTS), decreased glutathione (GSH) levels, and depletion of cellular adenosine-triphosphate (ATP). Consistent with its ability to decrease ATP levels and induce cell death, lead also increased caspase-3 activity, an effect potentiated by glutamate. Exposure to glutamate and lead elevated the cellular malondialdehyde (MDA) levels and phospholipase-A2 (PLA2) activity and diminished the glutamine synthetase (GS) activity. NACA protected PC12 cells from the cytotoxic effects of glutamate plus lead, as evaluated by MTS assay. NACA reduced the decrease in the cellular ATP levels and restored the intracellular GSH levels. the increased levels of ROS and MDA in glutamate-lead treated cells were significantly decreased by NACA. in conclusion, our data showed that glutamate potentiated the effects of lead-induced PC12 cell death by a mechanism involving mitochondrial dysfunction (ATP depletion) and oxidative stress. NACA had a protective role against the combined toxic effects of glutamate and lead by inhibiting lipid peroxidation and scavenging ROS, thus preserving intracellular GSH.



Keywords and Phrases

Glutamic acid; Oxidative stress

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2006 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2006