The neuroprotective action of pyrroloquinoline quinone against glutamate-induced apoptosis in hippocampal neurons is mediated through the activation of PI3K/Akt pathway

Qi Zhang, Mi Shen, Mei Ding, Dingding Shen, Fei Ding
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2011 April 1, 252 (1): 62-72
Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), a cofactor in several enzyme-catalyzed redox reactions, possesses a potential capability of scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inhibiting cell apoptosis. In this study, we investigated the effects of PQQ on glutamate-induced cell death in primary cultured hippocampal neurons and the possible underlying mechanisms. We found that glutamate-induced apoptosis in cultured hippocampal neurons was significantly attenuated by the ensuing PQQ treatment, which also inhibited the glutamate-induced increase in Ca²+ influx, caspase-3 activity, and ROS production, and reversed the glutamate-induced decrease in Bcl-2/Bax ratio. The examination of signaling pathways revealed that PQQ treatment activated the phosphorylation of Akt and suppressed the glutamate-induced phosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK). And inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt cascade by LY294002 and wortmannin significantly blocked the protective effects of PQQ, and alleviated the increase in Bcl-2/Bax ratio. Taken together, our results indicated that PQQ could protect primary cultured hippocampal neurons against glutamate-induced cell damage by scavenging ROS, reducing Ca²+ influx, and caspase-3 activity, and suggested that PQQ-activated PI3K/Akt signaling might be responsible for its neuroprotective action through modulation of glutamate-induced imbalance between Bcl-2 and Bax.

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