NAPVSIPQ (NAP), an 8 amino acid peptide derived from activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP), provides neuroprotection through interaction with microtubules. Previous results have demonstrated NAP protection against oxygen-glucose deprivation in hippocampal cells in culture. Furthermore, in vivo studies have shown that NAP reduces caspase 3 activation in rats subjected to permanent mid-cerebral artery occlusion (a rat model of stroke). Oxygen-glucose deprivation (ischemia) has been associated with microtubule breakdown and cytochrome c release from mitochondria leading to apoptosis. Here, NAP in concentrations ranging from 10(-14)M to 10(-8)M completely blocked cytochrome c release in cortical neurons subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation. Furthermore, quantitative microscopy coupled to microtubule immunocytochemistry suggested that NAP prevented microtubule degradation under oxidative stress. As cytochrome c release is a known initiator of the apoptotic pathway, it is suggested that NAP inhibits the early events of apoptosis.