UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of a method to deliver neuroprotective peptides specifically into stroke-affected neurons Lo, Edmund


Stroke is a pathological condition that causes extensive brain damage. During ischemic stroke, an excess of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate exerts many deleterious effects, which leads to cellular damage and cell death, a phenomenon appropriately termed excitotoxicity. Among the events triggered is the activation of the enzyme calpain, a protease whose action is dependent on the intracellular concentration of calcium, which is known to be elevated during excitotoxicity. In this thesis, I hypothesize that neuroprotective drugs can be better accumulated into stroke-affected regions by utilizing the actions of calpain. The extent of calpain activation was first investigated, and it was found to increase over time in both in vitro and in vivo models of stroke. Different amino acid sequences recognized and cleaved by calpain were then incorporated into the neuroprotective Tat-GluR2/3Y peptide. Although in vivo detection of modified Tat-GluR2/3Y peptides was unsuccessful due to technical difficulties, the accumulation of the therapeutic 3Y peptide fragments in neurons under excitotoxic conditions in vitro was found to increase with the CP-3 peptide, a peptide that is a modified version of the Tat-GluR2/3Y, with a sequence cleavable by calpain from the protein Collapsin Response Mediator Protein-3 (CRMP-3). These results suggest that it is possible to concentrate therapeutic agents into stroke-affected neurons, and this may translate into enhanced neuroprotective properties in both in vitro and in vivo animal stroke models.

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