Changes Induced in Astrocyte Cathepsin D by Cytokines and Leupeptin

Academic Article


  • Cathepsin D is widely, but unevenly, distributed among cells and is capable of degrading a number of neural peptides and proteins. The present study was undertaken to examine the level of cathepsin D in astrocytes that might be relevant to its induction in inflammatory demyelination. Primary astrocytes were cultured from neonatal rat cerebrums according to the method of McCarthy and de Vellis. Based on staining for cell markers, cultures were >95% astrocytes and <3% microglia. Under serum‐free conditions, leupeptin induced a 1.4‐ to 2.0‐fold increase, maximal by 48 hours, in cathepsin D protein quantified by a radioimmunoassay. Cathepsin D enzymatic activity, inhibitable by pepstatin, also increased. Northern blot analysis demonstrated that leupeptin also increased cathepsin D mRNA expression. Kinetic analysis indicated that maximal cathepsin D mRNA levels are detected 24 h after stimulation with leupeptin. Exposure of astrocytes under the same conditions to rat recombinant interferon‐γ, human recombinant tumor necrosis factor‐α, human recombinant interleukin‐1β, lipopolysaccharide, calcium ionophore, or a combination of these reagents did not increase the level of cathepsin D above controls. These results indicate that astrocytic cathepsin D mRNA and protein can be induced by selected materials. Furthermore, the effects attributed to leupeptin as a proteinase inhibitor may be modified by its ability to increase cathepsin D activity. Copyright © 1991, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Whitaker JN; Herman PK; Sparacio SM; Zhou SR; Benveniste EN
  • Start Page

  • 406
  • End Page

  • 414
  • Volume

  • 57
  • Issue

  • 2