Neuroprotective effect of somatostatin on nonapoptotic NMDA-induced neuronal death: Role of cyclic GMP

Gianluigi Forloni, Elisa Lucca, Nadia Angeretti, Roberto Chiesa, Annamaria Vezzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Somatostatin (SRIF) exerts a modulatory function on neuronal transmission in the CNS. It has been proposed that a reduction of calcium currents is the major determinant of the inhibitory activity of this peptide on synaptic transmission. Because the neurotoxicity induced by activation of the NMDA subtype of glutamate receptor is mediated through excessive Ca2+ influx, we investigated whether SRIF counteracted NMDA-induced neuronal cell death. Neurons from embryonic rat cerebral cortex were cultured for 7-10 days and then exposed to 0.5 and 1 mM NMDA for 24 h. The neuronal viability, as assessed by the colorimetric method, decreased by 40 and 60%, respectively, compared with the control condition. Morphological and biochemical evidence indicated that cell death occurred by necrosis and not through an apoptotic mechanism. SRIF (0.5-10 μM), simultaneously applied with excitatory amino acid, significantly reduced in a dose-dependent manner the neurotoxic effect of NMDA but not that of KA (0.25-0.5 mM). GABA (10 μM) partially protected neurons to a similar extent from NMDA- or KA-induced toxicity. SRIF type 2 receptor agonists, octreotide (SMS 201-995; 10 μM) and vapreotide (RC 160; 10 μM), did not influence the NMDA-dependent neurotoxicity. The intracellular mechanism involved in SRIF neuroprotection was investigated. Pertussin toxin (300 ng/ml), a G protein blocker, antagonized the protective effect of SRIF on NMDA neurotoxicity. Furthermore, the neuroprotective effect of SRIF was mimicked by dibutyryl-cyclic GMP (10 μM), a cyclic GMP analogue, whereas 8-(4-chlorphenylthio)-cyclic AMP (10 μM), a cyclic AMP analogue, was ineffective. The cyclic GMP content was increased in a dose-dependent manner by SRIF (2.5-10 μM). Finally, both specific (Rp-8-bromoguanosine 3',5'- monophosphate, 10 μM) and nonspecific [1-(5-isoquinolinylsulfonyl)-2- methylpiperazine (H7), 10 μM] cyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase (cGMP-PK) inhibitors did not interfere with NMDA toxicity but substantially reduced SRIF neuroprotection. Our data suggest a selective neuroprotective role of SRIF versus NMDA-induced nonapoptotic neuronal death in cortical cells. This effect is likely mediated by cGMP-PK presumably by regulation of the intracellular Ca2+ level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997


  • Cell death
  • Cyclic GMP
  • Neuronal calcium
  • Somatostatin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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