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J Mol Neurosci. 2014 Jan;52(1):48-55. doi: 10.1007/s12031-013-0165-7. Epub 2013 Nov 19.

Orexins protect neuronal cell cultures against hypoxic stress: an involvement of Akt signaling.

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Institute of Medical Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Lodowa 106, 93-232, Łódź, Poland.


Orexins A and B are peptides produced mainly by hypothalamic neurons that project to numerous brain structures. We have previously demonstrated that rat cortical neurons express both types of orexin receptors, and their activation by orexins initiates different intracellular signals. The present study aimed to determine the effect of orexins on the Akt kinase activation in the rat neuronal cultures and the significance of that response in neurons subjected to hypoxic stress. We report the first evidence that orexins A and B stimulated Akt in cortical neurons in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Orexin B more potently than orexin A increased Akt phosphorylation, but the maximal effect of both peptides on the kinase activation was very similar. Next, cultured cortical neurons were challenged with cobalt chloride, an inducer of reactive oxygen species and hypoxia-mediated signaling pathways. Under conditions of chemical hypoxia, orexins potently increased neuronal viability and protected cortical neurons against oxidative stress. Our results also indicate that Akt kinase plays an important role in the pro-survival effects of orexins in neurons, which implies a possible mechanism of the orexin-induced neuroprotection.

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