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J Biol Chem. 2007 Dec 21;282(51):37006-15. Epub 2007 Oct 25.

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma up-regulates the Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic protein in neurons and induces mitochondrial stabilization and protection against oxidative stress and apoptosis.

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Centro de Regulación Celular y Patologia Joaquín V. Luco and Millennium Institute for Fundamental and Applied Biology, Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) has been proposed as a therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases because of its anti-inflammatory action in glial cells. However, PPARgamma agonists preventbeta-amyloid (Abeta)-induced neurodegeneration in hippocampal neurons, and PPARgamma is activated by the nerve growth factor (NGF) survival pathway, suggesting a neuroprotective anti-inflammatory independent action. Here we show that the PPARgamma agonist rosiglitazone (RGZ) protects hippocampal and dorsal root ganglion neurons against Abeta-induced mitochondrial damage and NGF deprivation-induced apoptosis, respectively, and promotes PC12 cell survival. In neurons and in PC12 cells RGZ protective effects are associated with increased expression of the Bcl-2 anti-apoptotic protein. NGF-differentiated PC12 neuronal cells constitutively overexpressing PPARgamma are resistant to Abeta-induced apoptosis and morphological changes and show functionally intact mitochondria and no increase in reactive oxygen species when challenged with up to 50 microM H2O2. Conversely, cells expressing a dominant negative mutant of PPARgamma show increased Abeta-induced apoptosis and disruption of neuronal-like morphology and are highly sensitive to oxidative stress-induced impairment of mitochondrial function. Cells overexpressing PPARgamma present a 4- to 5-fold increase in Bcl-2 protein content, whereas in dominant negative PPARgamma-expressing cells, Bcl-2 is barely detected. Bcl-2 knockdown by small interfering RNA in cells overexpressing PPARgamma results in increased sensitivity to Abeta and oxidative stress, further suggesting that Bcl-2 up-regulation mediates PPARgamma protective effects. PPARgamma prosurvival action is independent of the signal-regulated MAPK or the Akt prosurvival pathways. Altogether, these data suggest that PPARgamma supports survival in neurons in part through a mechanism involving increased expression of Bcl-2.

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