Alterations in tau phosphorylation in rat and human neocortical brain slices following hypoxia and glucose deprivation

Keith K. Burkhart, Daniel C. Beard, Ralph A.W. Lehman, Melvin L. Billingsley

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45 Scopus citations


Tau is a microtubule-associated protein which is regulated by phosphorylation. Highly phosphorylated tau does not bind microtubules and is the main component of the paired helical filaments seen in Alzheimer's and related neurodegenerative diseases. Recent reports suggested that patterns of tau phosphorylation changed following ischemia and/or reperfusion in vivo. We used an in vitro model employing rat and human neocortical slices to investigate changes in tau phosphorylation which accompany oxygen and glucose deprivation. Western blotting with polyclonal and phosphorylation-sensitive Tau-1 monoclonal antisera was used to monitor changes in tau which accompanied conditions of oxygen and glucose deprivation and reestablishment of these nutrients. In vitro hypoglycemia/hypoxia caused tau to undergo significant dephosphorylation in both rat and human neocortical slices after 30 and 60 min of deprivation. This dephosphorylation was confirmed using immunoprecipitation experiments after radiolabeling tau and other proteins with 32Pi. Okadaic acid, a phosphatase inhibitor, was able to prevent tau dephosphorylation in both control and ischemic slices. Lubeluzole, a benzothiazole derivative with in vivo neuroprotective activity, did not significantly alter patterns of tau phosphorylation. Restoration of oxygen and glucose following varied periods of in vitro hypoxia/hypoglycemia (15-60 min) led to an apparent recovery in phosphorylated tau. These data suggest that tau undergoes a rapid, but reversible dephosphorylation following brief periods of in vitro hypoxia/hypoglycemia in brain slices and that changes in tau phosphorylation help determine the extent of recovery following oxygen and glucose deprivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-472
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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