Astrocytes are the first responders to noxious stimuli by undergoing cellular and functional transition referred as reactive gliosis. Every acute or chronic disorder is accompanied by reactive gliosis, which could be categorized as detrimental (A1) of beneficial (A2) for nervous tissue. Another signature of pathological astrocyte activation is disturbed Ca2+ homeostasis, a common denominator of neurodegenerative diseases. Deregulation of Ca+ signaling further contributes to production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species. Trimethyltin (TMT) intoxication is a widely used model of hippocampal degeneration, sharing behavioral and molecular hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), thus representing a useful model of AD-like pathology. However, the role of astrocyte in the etiopathology of TMT-induced degeneration as well as in AD is not fully understood. In an effort to elucidate the role of astrocytes in such pathological processes, we examined in vitro effects of TMT on primary cortical astrocytes. The application of a range of TMT concentrations (5, 10, 50, and 100 μM) revealed changes in [Ca2+]i in a dose-dependent manner. Specifically, TMT-induced Ca2+ transients were due to L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCC). Additionally, TMT induced mitochondrial depolarization independent of extracellular Ca2+ and disturbed antioxidative defense of astrocyte in several time points (4, 6, and 24 h) after 10 μM TMT intoxication, inducing oxidative and nitrosative stress. Chronic exposure (24 h) to 10 μM TMT induced strong upregulation of main pro-inflammatory factors, components of signaling pathways in astrocyte activation, A1 markers, and VGCC. Taken together, our results provide an insight into cellular and molecular events of astrocyte activation in chronic neuroinflammation.
Keywords: A1-like phenotype; Astrocytes; Ca2+ dysregulation; L-type voltage-gated calcium channels; TMT intoxication.