Simvastatin induces neuroprotection in 6-OHDA-lesioned PC12 via the PI3K/AKT/caspase 3 pathway and anti-inflammatory responses

Yun-Qi Xu, Ling Long, Jun-Qiang Yan, Lei Wei, Meng-Qiu Pan, Hui-Min Gao, Peng Zhou, Mei Liu, Can-Sheng Zhu, Bei-Sha Tang, Qing Wang
CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics 2013, 19 (3): 170-7

BACKGROUND: In addition to their original applications for lowering cholesterol, statins display multiple neuroprotective effects. Inflammatory reactions and the PI3K/AKT/caspase 3 pathway are strongly implicated in dopaminergic neuronal death in Parkinson's disease (PD). This study aims to investigate how simvastatin affects 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned PC12 via regulating PI3K/AKT/caspase 3 and modulating inflammatory mediators.

METHODS: 6-hydroxydopamine-treated PC12 cells were used to investigate the neuroprotection of simvastatin, its association with the PI3K/AKT/caspase 3 pathway, and antiinflammatory responses. Dopamine transporters (DAT) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) were examined in 6-hydroxydopamine-treated PC12 after simvastatin treatment.

RESULTS: Simvastatin-mediated neuroprotection was associated with a robust reduction in the upregulation induced by 6-OHDA of inflammatory mediators including IL-6, COX2, and TNF-α. The downregulated DAT and TH levels in 6-OHDA-lesioned PC12 were restored after simvastatin treatment. Simvastatin reversed 6-OHDA-induced downregulation of PI3K/Akt phosphorylation and attenuated 6-OHDA-induced upregulation of caspase 3 in PC12. Furthermore, the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 pronouncedly abolished the simvastatin-mediated attenuation in caspase 3.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that simvastatin provides robust neuroprotection against dopaminergic neurodegeneration, partially via antiinflammatory mechanisms and the PI3K/Akt/caspase 3 pathway. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the critical roles of simvastatin in treating PD and might elucidate the molecular mechanisms of simvastatin effects in PD.

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