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We have explored the neuroprotective efficacy of the cell penetrant caspase inhibitor, Ac-YVAD-cmk, in a hippocampal slice model of neuronal cell death induced by oxygen and glucose deprivation. Organotypic hippocampal slice cultures were prepared from 8 to 10-day-old rats and maintained for 10 to 12 days in vitro. Pre-treatment with Ac-YVAD-cmk prior to 45 min oxygen and glucose deprivation was neuroprotective as measured by propidium iodide uptake, with an EC(50) between 1 and 10 micromol/l. Ac-YVAD-cmk was also able to preserve synaptic function in the organotypic hippocampal slice cultures 24 h after oxygen and glucose deprivation. Ac-YVAD-cmk prevented the increase in histone-associated DNA fragmentation induced by oxygen and glucose deprivation. Interleukin-1beta did not reverse the protective effect of Ac-YVAD-cmk, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist alone was not protective. These results show that caspase inhibitors are neuroprotective in a hippocampal slice culture system, using structural, biochemical and electrophysiological endpoints, and that this effect is not a result of inhibition of interleukin-1beta production.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Res

Publication Date





62 - 69


Amino Acid Chloromethyl Ketones, Animals, Brain Ischemia, Caspase Inhibitors, Cell Death, Cell Hypoxia, Cell Line, Transformed, Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors, DNA Fragmentation, Electrophysiology, Glucose, Hippocampus, Mice, Neurons, Neuroprotective Agents, Organ Culture Techniques, Oxygen, Rats, Stroke