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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2009 May;19(5):356-62. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2008.12.012. Epub 2009 Feb 3.

Differential effects of aripiprazole and haloperidol on BDNF-mediated signal changes in SH-SY5Y cells.

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Paik Institute for Clinical Research, Inje University, Busan, Republic of Korea.


Recent studies have suggested that first and second generation antipsychotics (FGAs and SGAs) have different neuroprotective effects. However, the molecular mechanisms of SGAs are not fully understood, and investigations into changes in intracellular signaling related to their neuroprotective effects remain scarce. In the present study, we compared the SGA aripiprazole with the FGA haloperidol in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells via brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-mediated signaling, notably BDNF, glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta), and B cell lymphoma protein-2 (Bcl-2). We examined the effects of aripiprazole (five and 10 microM) and haloperidol (one and 10 microM) on BDNF gene promoter activity in SH-SY5Y cells transfected with a rat BDNF promoter fragment (-108 to +340) linked to the luciferase reporter gene. The changes in BDNF, p-GSK-3beta, and Bcl-2 levels were measured by Western blot analysis. The haloperidol was not associated with a significant difference in BDNF promoter activity. In contrast, aripiprazole was associated with increased BDNF promoter activity only with a dose of 10 microM (93%, p<0.01). Treatment with aripiprazole at 10 microM increased the levels of BDNF by 85%, compared with control levels (p<0.01), whereas haloperidol had no effect. Moreover, cells treated with aripirazole effectively increased the levels of GSK-3beta phosphorylation and Bcl-2 at doses of five and 10 microM (30% and 58% and 31% and 80%, respectively, p<0.05 or p<0.01). However, haloperidol had no effects on p-GSK-3 beta and Bcl-2 expression. This study showed that aripiprazole, but not haloperidol, appeared to offer neuroprotective effects on human neuronal cells. The actions of signaling systems associated with BDNF may represent key targets for both aripiprazole and haloperidol, but the latter may be associated with distinct effects. These differences might be related to the different therapeutic effects of FGAs and SGAs in patients with schizophrenia.

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