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Front Neurosci. 2019 Jul 25;13:760. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00760. eCollection 2019.

Melatonin Prevents Mice Cortical Astrocytes From Hemin-Induced Toxicity Through Activating PKCα/Nrf2/HO-1 Signaling in vitro.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Ruijin Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.
Department of Neurology, Ruijin Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.
Department of Neurosurgery, Ruijin Hospital Luwan Branch, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.


Secondary injuries mediated by oxidative stress lead to deterioration of neurological functions after intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Cortical astrocytes are among the most important cells in the central nervous system (CNS), and play key roles in maintaining redox homeostasis by providing oxidative stress defense. Hemin is a product of hemoglobin degradation, which has strong toxicity and can induce reactive oxygen species (ROS). Melatonin (Mel) and its metabolites are well tolerated without toxicity, prevent tissue damage as well as effectively assist in scavenging free radicals. We evaluated the hemin neurotoxicity to astrocytes and the resistance of Mel-treated astrocytes to hemin neurotoxicity. And we found Mel induced PKCα phosphorylation (p-PKC), nuclear translocation of Nrf2 in astrocytes, and upregulation of HO-1, which contributed to the reduction of ROS accumulation and cell apoptosis. Nrf2 and HO1 protein expression upregulated by Mel were decreased after administration of PKC inhibitor, Ro 31-8220 (Ro 31). Luzindole (Luz), a melatonin receptor inhibitor, suppressed p-PKCα, HO-1, and Nrf2 expression upregulated by Mel and increased cell apoptosis rate. The upregulation of HO-1 induced by Mel was depressed by knocking down Nrf2 expression by siRNA, which also decreased the resistance of astrocytes to toxicity of hemin. Mel activates astrocytes through PKCα/Nrf2/HO-1 signaling pathway to acquire resistance to toxicity of hemin and resist from oxidative stress and apoptosis. The positive effect of Mel on PKCα/Nrf2/HO-1 signaling pathway may become a new target for neuroprotection after intracerebral hemorrhage.


Nrf2; PKCα; hemin; intracerebral hemorrhage; melatonin; oxidative stress

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