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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2006 Nov;319(2):595-603. Epub 2006 Aug 4.

Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) 38 and PACAP4-6 are neuroprotective through inhibition of NADPH oxidase: potent regulators of microglia-mediated oxidative stress.

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Laboratory of Pharmacology and Chemistry, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, MD F1-01, P.O. Box 12233, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


Microglial activation is implicated in the progressive nature of numerous neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease. Using primary rat mesencephalic neuron-glia cultures, we found that pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) 38, PACAP27, and its internal peptide, Gly-Ile-Phe (GIF; PACAP4-6), are neuroprotective at 10(-13) M against lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced dopaminergic (DA) neurotoxicity, as determined by [(3)H]DA uptake and the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive neurons. PACAP38 and GIF also protected against 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium(+)-induced neurotoxicity but only in cultures containing microglia. PACAP38 and GIF ameliorated the production of microglia-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS), where both LPS- and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-induced superoxide and intracellular ROS were inhibited. The critical role of NADPH oxidase for GIF and PACAP38 neuroprotection against LPS-induced DA neurotoxicity was demonstrated using neuron-glia cultures from mice deficient in NADPH oxidase (PHOX(-/-)), where PACAP38 and GIF reduced tumor necrosis factor alpha production and were neuroprotective only in PHOX(+/+) cultures and not in PHOX(-/-) cultures. Pretreatment with PACAP6-38 (3 microM; PACAP-specific receptor antagonist) was unable to attenuate PACAP38, PACAP27, or GIF (10(-13) M) neuroprotection. PACAP38 and GIF (10(-13) M) failed to induce cAMP in neuronglia cultures, supporting that the neuroprotective effect was independent of traditional high-affinity PACAP receptors. Pharmacophore analysis revealed that GIF shares common chemical properties (hydrogen bond acceptor, positive ionizable, and hydrophobic regions) with other subpicomolar-acting compounds known to inhibit NADPH oxidase: naloxone, dextromethorphan, and Gly-Gly-Phe. These results indicate a common high-affinity site of action across numerous diverse peptides and compounds, revealing a basic neuropeptide regulatory mechanism that inhibits microglia-derived oxidative stress and promotes neuron survival.

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