Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Inhibition of the interleukin-1β converting enzyme family rescues neurons from apoptotic death


The interleukin-1β converting enzyme (ICE) family of cysteine proteases has been implicated in apoptosis. This study tested the effects of a novel pan-ICE family inhibitor, boc-aspartyl(OMe)-fluoromethylketone (boc-Asp-CH2F), against low potassium-induced apoptosis of cultured rat cerebellar granule neurons (CGN). A single application of this cell-permeant compound (20 μM) inhibited apoptotic cell death up to 48 h. Classical apoptotic changes were monitored by fluorescence microscopy, DNA fragmentation and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A control peptidic fluoromethylketone (boc-Thr-CH2F), and inhibitors to calpain (Ac-Leu-Leu-norleucinal), cathepsin B (Z-Phe-Ala-CH2F), and CPP32-like proteases (Z-DEVD-CH2F), failed to prevent apoptotic death. An 35S-methionine incorporation assay verified that, unlike cycloheximide, boc-Asp-CH2F did not inhibit protein synthesis, hence excluding this as a rescuing mechanism. Although ICE was not detected by northern blot analysis, both CPP32 and Nedd2 expression were found to increase during apoptosis. Kinetic assays with cell extracts from boc-Asp-CH2F-treated neurons measured reduced rates of cleavage for DEVD-pNA and LEVD-pNA. At present, ICE-like proteases remain viable candidates for mediating neuronal death.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lynch, T., Vasilakos, J., Raser, K. et al. Inhibition of the interleukin-1β converting enzyme family rescues neurons from apoptotic death. Mol Psychiatry 2, 227–238 (1997).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • apoptosis
  • potassium
  • cerebellar granule neurons
  • cysteine proteases
  • ICE homologs

Further reading


Quick links