Brain Res. 2023 Dec 1:1820:148556.doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2023.148556. Epub 2023 Aug 28.

Restoring System xc- activity by xCT overexpression inhibited neuronal ferroptosis and improved neurological deficits after experimental subarachnoid hemorrhage



Background: Ferroptosis is an important therapeutic target to alleviate early brain injury (EBI) after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), yet the mechanism of neuronal ferroptosis after SAH remains unclear. System xc- dysfunction is one of the key pathways to induce ferroptosis. System xc- activity is mainly regulated by the expression of xCT. This study was designed to investigate the effect of xCT expression and System xc- activity on ferroptosis and EBI in an experimental SAH model both in vitro and in vivo.

Methods: SAH was induced in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats by injecting autologous blood into the prechiasmatic cistern. Primary neurons treated with oxyhemoglobin (10 µM) were used to mimic SAH in vitro. Plasmid transfection was used to induce xCT overexpression. Western blotting, immunofluorescence staining, measurement of cystine uptake, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, transmission electron microscopy, Nissl staining, and a series of neurobehavioral tests were conducted to explore the role of xCT and System xc- activity in ferroptosis and EBI after SAH.

Results: We found that System xc- dysfunction induced ferroptosis and exacerbated EBI after SAH in rats. xCT deficiency after SAH resulted in System xc- dysfunction, weakened neuronal antioxidant capacity and activated neuronal ferroptosis. xCT overexpression improved neuronal antioxidant capacity and inhibited neuronal ferroptosis by restoring System xc- activity. Rats with xCT overexpression after SAH presented with attenuated brain edema and inflammation, increased neuronal survival, and ameliorated neurological deficits.

Conclusions: Our study revealed that restoring System xc- activity by xCT overexpression inhibited neuronal ferroptosis and EBI and improved neurological deficits after SAH.

Keywords: Ferroptosis; Neuron; Subarachnoid hemorrhage; System xc-; xCT.