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Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2013 Jul;33(5):625-35. doi: 10.1007/s10571-013-9921-z. Epub 2013 Apr 20.

Betaine protects against rotenone-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells.

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KM-Based Herbal Drug Research Group, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, Korea.


Rotenone is an inhibitor of mitochondrial complex I-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells and has been widely studied to elucidate the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. We investigated the neuroprotective effects of betaine on rotenone-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells. Betaine inhibited rotenone-induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner, with cell viability increasing from 50 % with rotenone treatment alone to 71 % with rotenone plus 100-μM betaine treatment. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrated cell death in the rotenone-treated cells to be over 50 %; the number of live cells increased with betaine pretreatment. Betaine pretreatment of PC12 cells attenuated rotenone-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction, including nuclear fragmentation, ATP depletion, mitochondrial membrane depolarization, caspase-3/7 activation, and reactive oxygen species production. Western blots demonstrated activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9, and their increased expression levels in rotenone-treated cells; betaine decreased caspase-3 and caspase-9 expression levels and suppressed their activation. Together, these results suggest that betaine may serve as a neuroprotective agent in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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