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Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Nov;24(2):296-307. Epub 2006 Sep 15.

Pyruvate protects cerebellar granular cells from 6-hydroxydopamine-induced cytotoxicity by activating the Akt signaling pathway and increasing glutathione peroxidase expression.

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Departamento de Ciencias Médicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Castilla-La Mancha, and Servicio de Farmacia, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Albacete, Spain.


Parkinson disease (PD) is the second-most common age-related neurodegenerative disease and is characterized by the selective destruction of dopaminergic neurons. Increasing evidence indicates that oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of idiopathic PD. Anti-oxidant agents including catalase, manganese porphyrin and pyruvate confer cytoprotection to different cell cultures when challenged with 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). Herein we used rat cerebellar granular cell cultures to ascertain the plausible cellular pathways involved in pyruvate-induced cytoprotection against 0.1 mM 6-OHDA. Pyruvate provided cytoprotection in a concentration-dependent manner (2-10 mM). Consistent with its well-established anti-oxidant capacity, pyruvate (10 mM) prevented 6-OHDA-induced lipid peroxidation by blocking the rise in intracellular peroxides and maintaining the intracellular reduced glutathione (GSH) levels. Further experiments revealed that pyruvate increased Akt, but not extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation. Moreover, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors attenuated pyruvate-induced cytoprotection indicating that PI3K-mediated Akt activation is necessary for pyruvate to induce cytoprotection. On the other hand, pyruvate also up-regulated glutathione peroxidase mRNA levels, but not those of the anti-oxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase-1 and -2, catalase or the anti-apoptotic oncogenes Bcl-2 or Bcl-xL. In summary, our results strongly suggest that pyruvate, besides the anti-oxidant properties related to its structure, exerts cytoprotective actions by activating different anti-apoptotic routes that include gene regulation and Akt pathway activation.

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