Effects on free radical generation by ligands of the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor in cultured neural cells

A. R. Jayakumar, K. S. Panickar, M. D. Norenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The effect of peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) ligands on free radical production was investigated in primary cultures of rat brain astrocytes and neurons as well as in BV-2 microglial cell lines using the fluorescent dye dichlorofluorescein-diacetate. Free radical production was measured at 2, 30, 60 and 120 min of treatment with the PBR ligands 1-(2-chlorophenyl-N-methylpropyl)-3-isoquinolinecarboxamide (PK11195), 7-chloro-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1,3-dihydro-1-methyl-2H-1,4-benzodiazepin-2-one (Ro5-4864) and protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) (all at 10 nM). In astrocytes, all ligands showed a significant increase in free radical production at 2 min. The increase was short-lived with PK11195, whereas with Ro5-4864 it persisted for at least 2 h. PpIX caused an increase at 2 and 30 min, but not at 2 h. Similar results were observed in microglial cells. In neurons, PK11195 and PpIX showed an increase in free radical production only at 2 min; Ro5-4864 had no effect. The central-type benzodiazepine receptor ligand, clonazepam, was ineffective in eliciting free radical production in all cell types. As the PBR may be a component of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) pore, and free radical production may occur following induction of the MPT, we further investigated whether cyclosporin A (CsA), an inhibitor of the MPT, could prevent free radical formation by PBR ligands. CsA (1 μM) completely blocked free radical production following treatment with PK11195 and Ro5-4864 in all cell types. CsA was also effective in blocking free radical production in astrocytes following PpIX treatment, but it failed to do so in neurons and microglia. Our results indicate that exposure of neural cells to PBR ligands generates free radicals, and that the MPT may be involved in this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1234
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Astrocytes
  • Free radicals
  • Microglia
  • Mitochondrial permeability transition
  • Neurons
  • Peripheral benzodiazepine receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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