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J Neurosci. 2006 Apr 26;26(17):4481-91.

Basic fibroblast growth factor protects against rotenone-induced dopaminergic cell death through activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase pathways.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7234, USA.


Administration of rotenone to rats reproduces many features of Parkinson's disease, including dopaminergic neuron degeneration, and provides a useful model to study the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. However, the cell death mechanisms induced by rotenone and potential neuroprotective mechanisms against rotenone are not well defined. Here we report that rotenone-induced apoptosis in human dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells is attenuated by pretreatment with several growth factors, most notably basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). bFGF activated both extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3-kinase) pathways in SH-SY5Y cells. Ectopic activation of ERK1/2 or PI3-kinase protected against rotenone, whereas inhibition of either pathway attenuated bFGF protection. Reducing the expression of the proapoptotic protein Bcl-2-associated death protein (BAD) by small interfering RNA rendered SH-SY5Y cells resistant to rotenone, implicating BAD in rotenone-induced cell death. Interestingly, bFGF induced a long-lasting phosphorylation of BAD at serine 112, suggesting BAD inactivation through the ERK1/2 signaling pathway. Moreover, primary cultured dopaminergic neurons from mesencephalon were more sensitive to rotenone-induced cell death than nondopaminergic neurons in the same culture. The loss of dopaminergic neurons was blocked by bFGF, an inhibition dependent on ERK1/2 and PI3-kinase signaling. These data suggest that rotenone-induced dopaminergic cell death requires BAD and identify bFGF and its activation of ERK1/2 and PI3-kinase signaling pathways as novel intervention strategies to block cell death in the rotenone model of Parkinson's disease.

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