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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017 Feb 5;483(2):874-879. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.01.024. Epub 2017 Jan 7.

Activation of Nrf2 attenuates carbonyl stress induced by methylglyoxal in human neuroblastoma cells: Increase in GSH levels is a critical event for the detoxification mechanism.

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Department of Analytical Biochemistry, Meiji Pharmaceutical University, 2-522-1 Noshio, Kiyose, Tokyo, 204-8588, Japan.
Department of Analytical Biochemistry, Meiji Pharmaceutical University, 2-522-1 Noshio, Kiyose, Tokyo, 204-8588, Japan. Electronic address:


The present study focused on the methylglyoxal (MG) detoxification mechanism in neuroblastoma cells. The involvement of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)/Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (Keap1) pathway as a defense response against the formation of MG-modified proteins, which is well-known evidence of carbonyl stress, was also examined. We found that MG treatment resulted in accumulation of modified proteins bearing the structure of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) derived from MG in SH-SY5Y cells. This accumulation was suppressed by activation of the Nrf2 pathway prior to MG exposure via pre-treatment with an Nrf2 activator, carnosic acid and CDDO-Im, confirming the involvement of the Nrf2 pathway in MG detoxification. Although pre-treatment with the Nrf2 activator did not affect mRNA levels of GLO1, AKR1B1, and AKR7A2, the expressions of GCL and xCT mRNA, involved in GSH synthesis, were induced prior to increase in GSH levels. Furthermore, we demonstrated that a GSH synthesis inhibitor eliminated the MG detoxification effect derived from pretreatment with the Nrf2 activator. These results indicated that increase in GSH levels, induced by pre-treatment with carnosic acid, promoted the formation of the GLO1 substrate, hemithioacetal, thereby accelerating MG metabolism via the glyoxalase system and suppressing its toxicity. It was, therefore, determined that promotion of GSH synthesis via the Nrf2/Keap1pathway is important in the MG detoxification mechanism against neuronal MG-induced carbonyl stress, and Nrf2 activators contribute to reduction in the accumulation and toxic expression of carbonyl proteins.


CDDO-Im; Carbonyl stress; Carnosic acid; GSH synthesis; Methylglyoxal; Neuroblastoma; Nrf2 activator

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