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Neuropharmacology. 2009 Mar;56(3):580-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.10.016. Epub 2008 Nov 21.

Nimodipine protects dopaminergic neurons against inflammation-mediated degeneration through inhibition of microglial activation.

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  • 1School of Environmental and Biological Science and Technology, Dalian University of Technology, No. 2 Linggong Road, Dalian, Liaoning 116024, China.


Nimodipine, a calcium channel blocker, has been used mainly in the therapy of cardiovascular diseases. Recently, its indications have been extended experimentally to a wider range of disorders especially some central nervous system (CNS) disorders. In this study, we investigated whether nimodipine is neuroprotective to inflammation-mediated neurodegenerative diseases. Pretreatment with nimodipine reduced the degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neurons induced by LPS in mesencephalic neuron-glia cultures in a dose-dependent manner. The neuroprotective effect of nimodipine was attributed to the inhibition of microglial activation, since nimodipine significantly inhibited the production of nitric oxide (NO), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) from LPS-stimulated microglia. Moreover, nimodipine was not neuroprotective to 1-methyi-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP(+))-induced DA neurotoxicity in the absence of microglia. Mechanistic study showed that nimodipine failed to protect the degeneration of neurons in neuron-glia cultures from mice lacking functional NADPH oxidase (PHOX), a key enzyme for extracellular superoxide production in immune cells. Taken together these results suggest that nimodipine is protective to DA neurodegeneration via inhibiting the microglial-mediated oxidative stress and inflammatory response. Thus, nimodipine may be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of inflammation-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

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