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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jan 4;102(1):244-9. Epub 2004 Dec 20.

Protection from mitochondrial complex II inhibition in vitro and in vivo by Nrf2-mediated transcription.

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School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin, 777 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705, USA.


Complex II inhibitors 3-nitropropionic acid (3NP) and malonate cause striatal damage reminiscent of Huntington's disease and have been shown to involve oxidative stress in their pathogenesis. Because nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-dependent transcriptional activation by means of the antioxidant response element is known to coordinate the up-regulation of cytoprotective genes involved in combating oxidative stress, we investigated the significance of Nrf2 in complex II-induced toxicity. We found that Nrf2-deficient cells and Nrf2 knockout mice are significantly more vulnerable to malonate and 3NP and demonstrate increased antioxidant response element (ARE)-regulated transcription mediated by astrocytes. Furthermore, ARE preactivation by means of intrastriatal transplantation of Nrf2-overexpressing astrocytes before lesioning conferred dramatic protection against complex II inhibition. These observations implicate Nrf2 as an essential inducible factor in the protection against complex II inhibitor-mediated neurotoxicity. These data also introduce Nrf2-mediated ARE transcription as a potential target of preventative therapy in neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington's disease.

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