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Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 Oct;290(1-2):23-32. Epub 2006 Aug 19.

Forskolin, an inducer of cAMP, up-regulates acetylcholinesterase expression and protects against organophosphate exposure in neuro 2A cells.

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Department of Biochemical Pharmacology, Division of Biochemistry, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, 503 Robert Grant Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910-7500, USA.


Bioscavenger prophylactic therapy using purified human acetylcholinesterase (AChE) or butylcholinesterase (BChE) is a promising treatment for future protection against chemical warfare nerve agent exposure. Potential immune response due to the complex structure of cholinesterases, mutations, post-translational modifications, and genetic variation is a limiting factor against purified enzyme therapy. We investigated an alternative bioscavenger approach using forskolin, an inducer of intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP), which activates AChE promoter and up-regulates its expression. A mouse neuronal cell line, Neuro 2A, was treated with various doses of forskolin and analysis of the expressed enzyme indicates that the AChE activity was significantly increased in cells exposed to repeated administration of the drug every other day for 7-10 days. Cholinesterase enzyme assays showed that the enzyme activity was increased approximately 2-fold for the extracellular enzyme and 3-fold for the intracellular enzyme. The optimal dose found for extracellular enzyme production was 12-24 microM forskolin, while the optimal dose for intracellular was 12 microM. In parallel with the rise in the AChE level, the morphology of forskolin-treated cells showed neurite growth with increasing doses. Forskolin treatment protects Neuro 2A cells from diisopropylflurophophate (DFP), a surrogate of the organophosphate chemical warfare agents soman and sarin, induced toxicity in Neuro 2A cells. These results indicate that transcriptional inducers, such as forskolin, can sufficiently up-regulate cellular AChE production and protect cells against organophosphate toxicity.

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