Overexpression of mitochondrial Hsp70/Hsp75 in rat brain protects mitochondria, reduces oxidative stress, and protects from focal ischemia

Mitochondria are known to be central to the cell’s response to ischemia, because of their role in energy generation, in free radical generation, and in the regulation of apoptosis. Heat shock protein 75 (Hsp75/Grp75/mortalin/TRAP1) is a member of the HSP70 chaperone family, which is targeted to mitochondria. Overexpression of Hsp75 was achieved in rat brain by DNA transfection, and expression was observed in both astrocytes and neurons. Rats were subjected to 100 mins middle cerebral artery occlusion followed by assessment of infarct volume, neurological score, mitochondrial function, and levels of oxidative stress at 24 h reperfusion. Overexpression of Hsp75 reduced infarct area from 44.6%±21.1% to 25.7%±12.1% and improved neurological outcome significantly. This was associated with improved mitochondrial function as shown by protection of complex IV activity, marked reduction of free radical generation detected by hydroethidine fluorescence, reduction of lipid peroxidation detected by 4-hydroxy-2-nonenol immunoreactivity, and increased preservation of ATP levels. This suggests that targeting mitochondria for protection may be a useful strategy to reduce ischemic brain injury. Keywords: Grp75, mitochondria, mortalin, oxidative stress, stroke, TRAP1