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Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Aug 1;43(3):372-83. Epub 2007 Apr 29.

6-Hydroxydopamine induces mitochondrial ERK activation.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA 15240, USA.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are implicated in 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) injury to catecholaminergic neurons; however, the mechanism(s) are unclear. In addition to ROS generated during autoxidation, 6-OHDA may initiate secondary cellular sources of ROS that contribute to toxicity. Using a neuronal cell line, we found that catalytic metalloporphyrin antioxidants conferred protection if added 1 h after exposure to 6-OHDA, whereas the hydrogen peroxide scavenger catalase failed to protect if added more than 15 min after 6-OHDA. There was a temporal correspondence between loss of protection and loss of the ability of the antioxidant to inhibit 6-OHDA-induced ERK phosphorylation. Time course studies of aconitase inactivation, an indicator of intracellular superoxide, and MitoSOX red, a mitochondria targeted ROS indicator, demonstrate early intracellular ROS followed by a delayed phase of mitochondrial ROS production, associated with phosphorylation of a mitochondrial pool of ERK. Furthermore, on initiation of mitochondrial ROS and ERK activation, 6-OHDA-injured cells became refractory to rescue by metalloporphyrin antioxidants. Together with previous studies showing that inhibition of the ERK pathway confers protection from 6-OHDA toxicity, and that phosphorylated ERK accumulates in mitochondria of degenerating human Parkinson's disease neurons, these studies implicate mitochondrial ERK activation in Parkinsonian oxidative neuronal injury.

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