Glucocorticoid-induced thymocyte apoptosis: protease-dependent activation of cell shrinkage and DNA degradation.

Conference Paper

Glucocorticoids are well known to stimulate apoptosis in immature thymocytes. Apoptosis in this and other cells is characterized by cell shrinkage, DNA fragmentation and activation of a class of proteases named caspases. We have utilized the flow cytometer to evaluate the coordinate regulation of cell shrinkage and DNA fragmentation in glucocorticoid-treated rat thymocytes and explore the role of caspases upstream of both changes. The results indicate that the activation of apoptosis by glucocorticoids in a cell population is an asynchronous event with only a percentage of the cells displaying apoptotic characteristics at any given time. Both cell shrinkage and chromatin degradation are tightly coupled with similar proportions of the cells displaying each characteristic. The coordinate appearance of these characteristics may suggest a similar mechanism of regulation. Incubation of thymocytes with the general caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK completely blocked both cell shrinkage and DNA fragmentation in spontaneous and glucocorticoid-induced thymocyte apoptosis, implicating an early upstream role for proteases in the activation of thymocyte apoptosis.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hughes, FM; Cidlowski, JA

Published Date

  • April 1998

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 65 / 1-6

Start / End Page

  • 207 - 217

PubMed ID

  • 9699875

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0960-0760

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/s0960-0760(97)00188-x

Conference Location

  • England