Here, we studied the effect of the mitochondria-targeted antioxidant SkQ1 (plastoquinone cationic derivative) on the CASP3 gene expression and caspase-3 activity in rat cerebral cortex and brain mitochondria under normal conditions and in oxidative stress induced by hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO). Under physiological conditions, SkQ1 administration (50 nmol/kg, 5 days) did not affect the CASP3 gene expression and caspase-3-like activity in the cortical cells, as well as caspase-3-like activity in brain mitochondria, but caused a moderate decrease in the content of primary products of lipid peroxidation (LPO) and an increase in the reduced glutathione (GSH) level. HBO-induced oxidative stress (0.5 MPa, 90 min) was accompanied by significant upregulation of CASP3 mRNA and caspase-3-like activity in the cerebral cortex, activation of the mitochondrial enzyme with simultaneous decrease in the GSH content, increase in the glutathione reductase activity, and stimulation of LPO. Administration of SkQ1 before the HBO session maintained the basal levels of the CASP3 gene expression and enzyme activity in the cerebral cortex cells and led to the normalization of caspase-3-like activity and redox parameters in brain mitochondria. We hypothesize that SkQ1 protects brain cells from the HBO-induced oxidative stress due to its antioxidant activity and stimulation of antiapoptotic mechanisms.

Panina, Gutsenko, Milyutina, Kornienko, Ananyan, Gvaldin, Plotnikov, Vnukov (2018). SkQ1 Controls CASP3 Gene Expression and Caspase-3-Like Activity in the Brain of Rats under Oxidative Stress. Biochemistry. Biokhimiia, 2018 Oct;83(10):1245-1254. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30472961