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Eur J Neurosci. 2011 Apr;33(8):1421-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2011.07637.x. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α agonists protect cortical neurons from inflammatory mediators and improve peroxisomal function.

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University of Bristol Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol BS16 1JB, UK.


Inflammation is known to cause significant neuronal damage and axonal injury in many neurological disorders. Among the range of inflammatory mediators, nitric oxide is a potent neurotoxic agent. Recent evidence has suggested that cellular peroxisomes may be important in protecting neurons from inflammatory damage. To assess the influence of peroxisomal activation on nitric oxide-mediated neurotoxicity, we investigated the effects of the peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α agonist fenofibrate on cortical neurons exposed to a nitric oxide donor or co-cultured with activated microglia. Fenofibrate protected neurons and axons against both nitric oxide donor-induced and microglia-derived nitric oxide-induced toxicity. Moreover, cortical neurons treated with this compound showed a significant increase in gene expression of ABCD3 (the gene encoding for peroxisomal membrane protein-70), with a concomitant increase in protein levels of PPAR-α and catalase, which was associated with a functional increase in the activity of this enzyme. Collectively, these observations provide evidence that modulation of PPAR-α activity and peroxisomal function by fenofibrate attenuates nitric oxide-mediated neuronal and axonal damage, suggesting a new therapeutic approach to protect against neurodegenerative changes associated with neuroinflammation.

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