Cytosolic redistribution of cytochrome c after transient focal cerebral ischemia in rats

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1998 Nov;18(11):1239-47. doi: 10.1097/00004647-199811000-00010.


Recent in vitro cell-free studies have shown that cytochrome c release from mitochondria is a critical step in the apoptotic process. The present study examined the expression of cytochrome c protein after transient focal cerebral ischemia in rats, in which apoptosis was assumed to contribute to the expansion of the ischemic lesion. In situ labeling of DNA breaks in frozen sections after 90 minutes of middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion showed a significant number of striatal and cortical neurons, which were maximized at 24 hours after ischemia, exhibiting chromatin condensation, nuclear segmentation, and apoptotic bodies. Cytosolic localization of cytochrome c was detected immunohistochemically in the ischemic area as early as 4 hours after 90 minutes of MCA occlusion. Western blot analysis of the cytosolic fraction revealed a strong single 15-kDa band, characteristic of cytochrome c, only in the samples from the ischemic hemisphere. Western blot analysis of the mitochondrial fraction showed a significant amount of mitochondrial cytochrome c in nonischemic brain, which was decreased in ischemic brain 24 hours after ischemia. These results provide the first evidence that cytochrome c is being released from mitochondria to the cytosol after transient focal ischemia. Although further evaluation is necessary to elucidate its correlation with DNA fragmentation, our results suggest the possibility that cytochrome c release may play a role in DNA-damaged neuronal cell death after transient focal cerebral ischemia in rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Caudate Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cerebral Arteries
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Cytochrome c Group / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / metabolism*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / pathology
  • Male
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Putamen / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Time Factors


  • Cytochrome c Group