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Eur J Neurosci. 2007 Aug;26(4):820-7.

Protective effect of acetyl-L-carnitine on the apoptotic pathway of peripheral neuropathy.

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Department of Preclinical and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Florence, 50139, Florence, Italy.


Peripheral neuropathies are widespread disorders induced by autoimmune diseases, drug or toxin exposure, infections, metabolic insults or trauma. Nerve damage may cause muscle weakness, altered functionalities and sensitivity, and a chronic pain syndrome characterized by allodynia and hyperalgesia. Pathophysiological mechanisms related to neuropathic disease are associated with mitochondrial dysfunctions that lead to the activation of the apoptotic cascade. In a model of peripheral neuropathy, obtained by the loose ligation of the rat sciatic nerve (CCI), we describe a nerve apoptotic state that encompasses the release of cytochrome C in the cytosol, the activation of caspase 3, and the fragmentation of the genome. Animal treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), but not with L-carnitine (L-Carn) or Gabapentin, prevents apoptosis induction. ALCAR reduces cytosolic cytochrome C and caspase 3 active fragments expression in a significant manner with respect to saline treatment. Accordingly, ALCAR treatment impairs caspase 3 protease activity, as demonstrated by reduced levels of cleaved PARP. Finally, ALCAR decreases the number of piknotic nuclei. This protection correlates with the induction of X-linked inhibitor apoptosis protein (XIAP). Taken together these results show that CCI is a valuable model to investigate neuropathies-related apoptosis phenomena and that ALCAR is able to prevent regulated cell death in the damaged sciatic nerve.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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