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Exp Neurol. 2008 Jun;211(2):529-38. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2008.02.023. Epub 2008 Mar 10.

Anti-apoptotic actions of vasopressin in H32 neurons involve MAP kinase transactivation and Bad phosphorylation.

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Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, Bethesda MD 20892, USA.


Vasopressin (VP) secreted within the brain modulates neuronal function acting as a neurotransmitter. Based on the observation that VP prevented serum deprivation-induced cell death in the neuronal cell line, H32, which expresses endogenous V1 receptors, we tested the hypothesis that VP has anti-apoptotic properties. Flow cytometry experiments showed that 10 nM VP prevented serum deprivation-induced cell death and annexin V binding. Serum deprivation increased caspase-3 activity in a time and serum concentration dependent manner, and VP prevented these effects through interaction with receptors of V1 subtype. The signaling pathways mediating the anti-apoptotic effect of VP involve mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK), Ca(2+)/calmodulin dependent kinase (CaMK) and protein kinase C (PKC). Western blot analyses revealed time-dependent decreases of Bad phosphorylation and increases in cytosolic levels of cytochrome c following serum deprivation, effects which were prevented by 10 nM VP. These data demonstrate that activation of endogenous V1 VP receptors prevents serum deprivation-induced apoptosis, through phosphorylation-inactivation of the pro-apoptotic protein, Bad, and consequent decreases in cytosolic cytochrome c and caspase-3 activation. The data suggest that VP has anti-apoptotic activity in neurons and that VP may act as a neuroprotective agent in the brain.

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