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FASEB J. 2018 Jun 25:fj201701460RRR. doi: 10.1096/fj.201701460RRR. [Epub ahead of print]

Methamphetamine exposure triggers apoptosis and autophagy in neuronal cells by activating the C/EBPβ-related signaling pathway.

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School of Forensic Medicine, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China.
School of Forensic Medicine, Wannan Medical College, Wuhu, China.
Guangzhou Forensic Science Institute, Guangzhou, China; and.
Department of Anatomy and Physiology, Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA.


Methamphetamine (Meth) is a widely abused psychoactive drug that primarily damages the nervous system, notably causing dopaminergic neuronal apoptosis. CCAAT-enhancer binding protein (C/EBPβ) is a transcription factor and an important regulator of cell apoptosis and autophagy. Insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP5) is a proapoptotic factor that mediates Meth-induced neuronal apoptosis, and Trib3 (tribbles pseudokinase 3) is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-inducible gene involved in autophagic cell death through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway. To test the hypothesis that C/EBPβ is involved in Meth-induced IGFBP5-mediated neuronal apoptosis and Trib3-mediated neuronal autophagy, we measured the protein expression of C/EBPβ after Meth exposure and evaluated the effects of silencing C/EBPβ, IGFBP5, or Trib3 on Meth-induced apoptosis and autophagy in neuronal cells and in the rat striatum after intrastriatal Meth injection. We found that, at relatively high doses, Meth exposure increased C/EBPβ protein expression, which was accompanied by increased neuronal apoptosis and autophagy; triggered the IGFBP5-mediated, p53-up-regulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA)-related mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathway; and stimulated the Trib3-mediated ER stress signaling pathway through the Akt-mTOR signaling axis. We also found that autophagy is an early response to Meth-induced stress upstream of apoptosis and plays a detrimental role in Meth-induced neuronal cell death. These results suggest that Meth exposure induces C/EBPβ expression, which plays an essential role in the neuronal apoptosis and autophagy induced by relatively high doses of Meth; however, relatively low concentrations of Meth did not change the expression of C/EBPβ in vitro. Further studies are needed to elucidate the role of C/EBPβ in low-dose Meth-induced neurotoxicity.-Xu, X., Huang, E., Luo, B., Cai, D., Zhao, X., Luo, Q., Jin, Y., Chen, L., Wang, Q., Liu, C., Lin, Z., Xie, W.-B., Wang, H. Methamphetamine exposure triggers apoptosis and autophagy in neuronal cells by activating the C/EBPβ-related signaling pathway.


C/EBPβ/IGFBP5 signaling axis; C/EBPβ/Trib3 signaling axis; ER Stress; neurotoxicity


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