Excitatory amino acid carrier 1 (EAAC1) is an important subtype of excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) and is the route for neuronal cysteine uptake. CoCl2 is not only a hypoxia-mimetic reagent but also an oxidative stress inducer. Here, we found that CoCl2 induced significant EAAC1 overexpression in SH-SY5Y cells and the hippocampus of mice. Transient transfection of EAAC1 reduced CoCl2-induced cytotoxicity in SH-SY5Y cells. Based on this result, upregulation of EAAC1 expression by CoCl2 is thought to represent a compensatory response against oxidative stress in an acute hypoxic state. We further demonstrated that pretreatment with Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) rescued CoCl2-induced upregulation of EAAC1 and tau expression. NRG1 plays a protective role in the CoCl2-induced accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reduction in antioxidative enzyme (SOD and GPx) activity. Moreover, NRG1 attenuated CoCl2-induced apoptosis and cell death. NRG1 inhibited the CoCl2-induced release of cleaved caspase-3 and reduction in Bcl-XL levels. Our novel finding suggests that NRG1 may play a protective role in hypoxia through the inhibition of oxidative stress and thereby maintain normal EAAC1 expression levels.
Keywords: Apoptosis; CoCl2; EAAC1; Neuregulin-1; Oxidative stress.