The cysteine proteases caspase-3 and cathepsins are involved in both neuronal plasticity and neuropathology. Using primary neuroglial and glial cerebellar cultures, the pH dependence of cleavage of a synthetic caspase-3 substrate, Ac-DEVD-AMC, was studied. At acidic pH, cathepsin B cleaved Ac-DEVD, this activity being significantly higher than that of caspase-3 at pH 7.4. This activity is blocked by peptide inhibitors of both caspase-3 and cathepsin B. Substitution of culture medium for balanced salt solution stimulated cathepsin B secretion in both types of cultures. Ischemia (oxygen-glucose deprivation) significantly decreased secretion of cathepsin B activities into the culture medium.
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