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Neuroscience. 2004;123(4):897-906.

Neuroprotection by transforming growth factor-beta1 involves activation of nuclear factor-kappaB through phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase/Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase-extracellular-signal regulated kinase1,2 signaling pathways.

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  • 1Institut fuer Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Philipps-Universitaet, Ketzerbach 63, D-35032 Marburg, Germany.


Prevention of neuronal apoptosis has been introduced as a new therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative disorders. We have previously reported anti-apoptotic effects of transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1), a multifunctional cytokine, in models of cerebral ischemia and in cultured neurons and recently focused on the mechanisms underlying the anti-apoptotic effect of TGF-beta1. The anti-apoptotic transcriptional factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) shows high impact in the cell survival function of multiple cytokines and growth factors. The present study explored whether NF-kappabeta is a target of TGF-beta1 and which signaling pathways involved in the activation of NF-kappabeta are triggered by TGF-beta1. We demonstrated that TGF-beta1 increased the transcriptional activity of NF-kappabeta in cultured hippocampal neurons in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Furthermore, TGF-beta1 induced translocation of p65/NF-kappabeta to the nucleus and enhanced NF-kappabeta transcriptional activity in the presence of apoptotic stimuli. TGF-beta1-mediated NF-kappabeta activation was blocked by wortmannin and U0126, indicating the involvement of both phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI3k)/Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular-signal regulated kinase (Erk)1,2 pathways in the action of TGF-beta1. TGF-beta1 produced a concomitant increase in the phosphorylations of Ikappabeta kinase (IKKalpha/beta) and Ikappabetaalpha with a subsequent degradation of Ikappabetaalpha. Interestingly, the increased phosphorylation of IKKalpha/beta and Ikappabetaalpha was abrogated by wortmannin, but not by U0126, suggesting that PI3k/Akt and MAPK/Erk1,2 pathways triggered by TGF-beta1 regulated the activation of NF-kappabeta through different mechanisms. Of note, wortmannin and U0126, as well as kappabeta-decoy DNA, abolished the anti-apoptotic effect of TGF-beta1, corroborating the notion that both PI3k/Akt and MAPK/Erk1,2 pathways, and NF-kappabeta activity are necessary for the anti-apoptotic activity of TGF-beta1.

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