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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2018 Feb;364(2):170-178. doi: 10.1124/jpet.117.243865. Epub 2017 Nov 13.

Restoration of Rostral Ventrolateral Medulla Cystathionine-γ Lyase Activity Underlies Moxonidine-Evoked Neuroprotection and Sympathoinhibition in Diabetic Rats.

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Department of Pharmacology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.
Department of Pharmacology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina


We recently demonstrated a fundamental role for cystathionine-γ lyase (CSE)-derived hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the cardioprotective effect of the centrally acting drug moxonidine in diabetic rats. Whether a downregulated CSE/H2S system in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) underlies neuronal oxidative stress and sympathoexcitation in diabetes has not been investigated. Along with addressing this question, we tested the hypothesis that moxonidine prevents the diabetes-evoked neurochemical effects by restoring CSE/H2S function within its major site of action, the RVLM. Ex vivo studies were performed on RVLM tissues of streptozotocin (55 mg/kg, i.p.) diabetic rats treated daily for 3 weeks with moxonidine (2 or 6 mg/kg; gavage), H2S donor sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS) (3.4 mg/kg, i.p.), CSE inhibitor DL-propargylglycine (DLP) (37.5 mg/kg, i.p.), a combination of DLP with moxonidine, or their vehicle. Moxonidine alleviated RVLM oxidative stress, neuronal injury, and increased tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity (sympathoexcitation) by restoring CSE expression/activity as well as heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression. A pivotal role for H2S in moxonidine-evoked neuroprotection is supported by the following: 1) NaHS replicated the moxonidine-evoked neuroprotection, and the restoration of RVLM HO-1 expression in diabetic rats; and 2) DLP abolished moxonidine-evoked neuroprotection in diabetic rats, and caused RVLM neurotoxicity, reminiscent of a diabetes-evoked neuronal phenotype, in healthy rats. These findings suggest a novel role for RVLM CSE/H2S/HO-1 in moxonidine-evoked neuroprotection and sympathoinhibition, and as a therapeutic target for developing new drugs for alleviating diabetes-evoked RVLM neurotoxicity and cardiovascular anomalies.

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