Uncoupling Proteins Prevent Glucose-Induced Neuronal Oxidative Stress and Programmed Cell Death

Andrea M. Vincent, James A. Olzmann, Michael Brownlee, W. I. Sivitz, James W. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


The central role of mitochondria in most pathways leading to programmed cell death (PCD) has focused our investigations into the mechanisms of glucose-induced neuronal degeneration. It has been postulated that hyperglycemic neuronal injury results from mitochondria membrane hyperpolarization and reactive oxygen species formation. The present study not only provides further evidence to support our model of glucose-induced PCD but also demonstrates a potent ability for uncoupling proteins (UCPs) to prevent this process. Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons were screened for UCP expression by Western blotting and immunocytochemistry. The abilities of individual UCPs to prevent hyperglycemic PCD were assessed by adenovirus-mediated overexpression of UCP1 and UCP3. Interestingly, UCP3 is expressed not only in muscle, but also in DRG neurons under control conditions. UCP3 expression is rapidly downregulated by hyperglycemia in diabetic rats and by high glucose in cultured neurons. Overexpression of UCPs prevents glucose-induced transient mitochondrial membrane hyperpolarization, reactive oxygen species formation, and induction of PCD. The loss of UCP3 in DRG neurons may represent a significant contributing factor in glucose-induced injury. Furthermore, the ability to prevent UCP3 downregulation or to reproduce the uncoupling response in DRG neurons constitutes promising novel approaches to avert diabetic complications such as neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-734
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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