Growth Factor Deprivation Induces an Alternative Non-apoptotic Death Mechanism That Is Inhibited by Bcl2 in Cells Derived from Neural Precursor Cells

María Del Carmen Cárdenas-Aguayo, Jesús Santa-Olalla, José Manuel Baizabal, Luis Miguel Salgado, Luis Covarrubias

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Although apoptosis has been considered the typical mechanism for physiological cell death, presently alternative mechanisms need to be considered. We previously showed that fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) could act as a survival factor for neural precursor cells. To study the death mechanism activated by the absence of this growth factor, we followed the changes in cell morphology and determined cell viability by staining with several dyes after FGF2 removal from mesencephalic neural-progenitor-cell cultures. The changes observed did not correspond to those associated with apoptosis. After 48 h in the absence of FGF2, cells began to develop vacuoles in their cytoplasm, a phenotype that became very obvious 3-5 days later. Double-membrane vacuoles containing cell debris were observed. Vacuolated cells did not stain with either ethidium bromide or trypan Blue, and did not show chromatin condensations. Nonetheless, during the course of culture, vacuolated cells formed aggregates with highly condensed chromatin and detached from the plate. Neural progenitor cells grown in the presence of FGF2 did not display any of those characteristics. The vacuolated phenotype could be reversed by the addition of FGF2. Typical autophagy inhibitors such as 3-MA and LY294002 inhibited vacuole development, whereas a broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor did not. Interestingly, Bcl-2 overexpression retarded vacuole development. In conclusion, we identified a death autophagy-like mechanism activated by the lack of a specific survival factor that can be inhibited by Bcl2. We propose that anti-apoptotic Bcl2 family members are key molecules controlling death activation independently of the cell degeneration mechanism used.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)735-748
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hematotherapy and Stem Cell Research
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


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