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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Oct;13(10):1763-75. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

Flunarizine induces Nrf2-mediated transcriptional activation of heme oxygenase-1 in protection of auditory cells from cisplatin.

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Vestibulocochlear Research Center & Department of Microbiology, Wonkwang University School of Medicine, Jeonbuk 570-749, Korea.


We investigated the cytoprotective mechanisms of flunarizine in cisplatin-induced death of auditory cells. Concomitant with an increase in viability, treatment with flunarizine resulted in a marked dissociation of Nrf2/Keap1 and subsequent intranuclear translocation of Nrf2, which was mediated by PI3K-Akt signaling. Overexpression of Nrf2 protected cells from cisplatin along with transcriptional activation of ARE to generate heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). Pretreatment with flunarizine predominantly increased the transcriptional activity of HO-1 among Nrf2-driven transcripts, including HO-1, NQO1, GCLC, GCLM, GST micro-1, and GSTA4. Furthermore, both pharmacological inhibition and siRNA transfection of HO-1 completely abolished the flunarizine-mediated protection of HEI-OC1 cells and the primary rat (P2) organ of Corti explants from cisplatin. These results suggest that Nrf2-driven transcriptional activation of ARE through PI3K-Akt signaling augments the generation of HO-1, which may be a critically important determinant in cellular response toward cisplatin and the cytoprotective effect of flunarizine against cisplatin.

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