Molecular Mechanisms of Hexacarbon-Induced Axon Atrophy

  • LoPachin, Richard M. (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): 2,5-Hexanedione (HD), the neurotoxic diketone metabolite of the industrial solvents methyl n-butyl ketone and n-hexane, causes a toxic neuropathy in occupationally exposed humans. Although axonal swellings have been considered the morphological hallmark, recent quantitative morphometric studies show that axon atrophy is a specific, prevalent effect that is temoporally correlated to the development of neurological defects. These findings suggest that atrophy is an essential pathophysiological component of diketone- induced neurotoxicity. The long-term objectives of this research project are to determine the molecular mechanism of axon atrophy. Studies conducted during the current funding period (yrs 04-07) indicated that HD intoxication of rats was associated with a depletion of mobile neurofilament (NF) proteins. This effect did not involve changes in NF phosphorylation or subunit gene expression. Since HD forms pyrrole adducts with NFs, we hypothesize that adduction interferes with the ability of mobile NFs to interact with the stationary cytoskeleton polymer. As a result, the subunit remains attached to the transport vector kinesin, which in the absence of compensatory changes in protein synthesis, promotes anterograde loss of NF subunits. Atrophy occurs due to depletion of the mobile NF pool and to the ensuing impairment of cytoskeletal turnover. This hypothesis will be tested by the following Specific Aims: 1) Mass spectrometry will be used to characterize HD-induced pyrrole formation in the stationary and mobile NF pools. 2) The effects of pyrrole formation on NF subunit kinesin-based transport, assembly and cytoskeletal incorportation will be determined. 3) The content and spatial relationships among cytoskeletal elements (NFs, microtubules) will be quantified in peripheral myelinated axons of HD-intoxicated rats and age-matched controls. 4) The ability of HD structural analogs (e.g., 3,4-dimethyl 2,5-HD) to predictably alter proteomic, morphological and biochemical parameters will be evaluated. Understanding the role and mechanism of axon atrophy in solvent neurotoxicity has broad-based implications for human occupational health and risk assessment.
Effective start/end date1/1/975/31/11


  • Clinical Neurology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology


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