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R Singh, G Upadhyay, and MM Godbole

Thyroid hormone (TH) deficiency leads to extensive apoptosis during cerebellar development, but the mechanism still remains unclear. Different signals also converge on mitochondria during apoptosis to induce the release of apoptogenic proteins that activate proteolytic cascade through specific enzymes called caspases. Here we studied the effect of hypothyroidism on alterations in mitochondrial structure and translocation of apoptogenic molecules during rat cerebellar development. Structural analysis of mitochondria was studied by electron microscopy. The translocation of apoptogenic molecules was analyzed by Western blotting. TH deficiency led to vacuolization, enlargement and decrease in the number of cristae. The majority of the proapoptotic molecule, Bax, was localized in mitochondria under hypothyroid conditions whereas a limited presence of Bax was detected in the euthyroid state. Translocation of cytochrome c, apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and second mitochondrial-derived activator of caspases (SMAC) from mitochondria to cytosol was detected primarily in early developmental stages in the hypothyroid condition. These experimental results demonstrate that TH maintains mitochondrial architecture and inhibits the release of apoptogenic molecules to prevent excess apoptosis during cerebellar development.

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R Singh, G Upadhyay, S Kumar, A Kapoor, A Kumar, M Tiwari, and MM Godbole

Thyroid hormone (TH) deficiency results in delayed proliferation and migration of cerebellar granule cells. Although extensive cell loss during the development of the cerebellum under hypothyroid conditions is known, its nature and its mechanism are poorly understood. Bcl-2 family gene expression is known to determine the fate of cells to undergo apoptosis. We evaluated the effect of hypothyroidism on Bcl-2 family gene expression in the developing rat cerebellum. Electrophoresis and Western blotting were used to analyze DNA fragmentation and expression of DNA fragmentation factor (DFF-45), Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and Bax genes respectively. In the hypothyroid condition, extensive DNA fragmentation and enhanced cleavage of DFF-45 were seen throughout development (postnatal day 0 to day 24) and adulthood whereas they were absent in the euthyroid state. The anti-apoptotic genes Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL were down-regulated and the pro-apoptotic gene Bax was expressed at higher levels compared with the euthyroid state. These results suggest that normal levels of TH prevent cerebellar apoptosis to a large extent, whereas hypothyroidism not only increases the extent but also the duration of apoptosis by down-regulating the anti-apoptotic genes and maintaining a high level of the pro-apoptotic gene Bax.