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Brain Res. 2012 Aug 21;1469:129-35. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2012.06.005. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Clavulanic acid inhibits MPP⁺-induced ROS generation and subsequent loss of dopaminergic cells.

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Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Rockville, MD 20850, United States.


Clavulanic acid is a psychoactive compound that has been shown to modulate central nervous system activity. Importantly, in neurotoxin-induced animal models, clavulanic acid has been shown to improve motor function (Huh et al., 2010) suggesting that it can be neuroprotective; however, the mechanism as how clavulanic acid can induce neuroprotection is not known. We demonstrate here that clavulanic acid abrogates the effects of the neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP(+)) which mimics Parkinson's disease (PD) by inducing neurodegeneration. To further establish the mechanism we identified that clavulanic acid inhibits neurotoxin-induced loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and ROS production. Consistent with these results, neurotoxin-induced increase in Bax levels was also decreased in clavulanic acid treated cells. Importantly, neurotoxin-induced release of cytochrome c levels as well as caspase activation was also inhibited in clavulanic acid treated cells. In addition, Bcl-xl levels were also restored and the Bcl-xl/Bax ratio that is critical for inducing apoptosis was increased in clavulanic acid treated cells. Overall, these results suggest that clavulanic acid is intimately involved in inhibiting neurotoxin-induced loss of mitochondrial function and induction of apoptosis that contributes towards neuronal survival.

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