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Int J Oncol. 2010 Oct;37(4):927-34.

Protective effect of the dopamine D(3) receptor agonist (7-OH-PIPAT) against apoptosis in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) cells.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Diagnostic Pathology, Legal Medicine, Hygiene and Public Health, 95123 Catania, Italy.


Emerging evidence indicates that the dopamine D(3) receptor (D(3)R) mediates protective roles both in neuronal and non-neuronal cell lines. In a previous study we proposed that neurofibromin, a large tumor suppressor protein encoded by the neurofibromatosis type 1 gene (NF1), may increase susceptibility to apoptosis after serum deprivation in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) cells, thus acting as a proapoptotic gene. In addition, it has been observed that D(3)Rs are functionally correlated to neurofibromin. In this study, we examined whether 7-OH-PIPAT, a potent dopamine D(3)R agonist, exerts an antiapoptotic role under the same culture conditions and then correlated this effect to changes in NF1 expression. Results showed that serum deprivation caused a significant reduction of cell viability (MTT assay) both after 24 and 48 h (p<0.001). Treatment with increasing concentrations of 7-OH-PIPAT (10(-9)-10(-5) M) induced a progressive increase in cell viability both after 24 and 48 h as compared to vehicle-treated cells, with significant changes at the highest concentrations tested (10(-6) and 10(-5) M). Consistently, at the latter two concentrations, a significant reduction in oligonucleosomes formation was observed, thus suggesting an antiapoptotic role of 7-OH-PIPAT. These results were confirmed by Hoechst 33254 nuclear staining. To investigate whether these effects were correlated to changes in NF1 transcript and protein expression, quantitative real-time PCR, Western blot and immunofluorescence analyses were performed. Results demonstrated that the upregulation of NF1 transcripts and protein levels induced by serum withdrawal were remarkably attenuated by 10(-6) and 10(-5) M agonist treatment within 24 h (p<0.01 and p<0.001, respectively), whereas similar effects were observed already at a lower concentration (10(-7) M) after 48 h treatment (p<0.001). In conclusion, these results suggest that D(3)R might mediate the protective response to serum deprivation in MPNST cells through the inhibition of NF1 gene expression, further underlying a subtle role of these receptors in MPNST development.

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