Mitochondrial protective effect of neferine through the modulation of nuclear factor erythroid 2‐related factor 2 signalling in ischaemic stroke

Article date: February 2019

By: Chuanhong Wu, Jianxin Chen, Ruocong Yang, Feipeng Duan, Shaojing Li, Xiuping Chen in Volume 176, Issue 3, pages 400-415

Background and Purpose

Ischaemic stroke is a leading cause of death and long‐term disability. Promising neuroprotective compounds are urgently needed to overcome clinical therapeutic limitations. Neuroprotective agents are limited to single‐target agents, which further limit their clinical effectiveness. Due to the brain's particular energy requirements, the energy micro‐environment, centred in mitochondria, is a new research hotspot in the complex pathology of ischaemic stroke. Here, we studied the effects of neferine (Nef), a bis‐benzylisoquinoline alkaloid extracted from the seed embryo of Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn, on ischaemic stroke and its underlying mitochondrial protective mechanisms.

Experimental Approach

Rats with permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion (pMCAO)‐induced focal cerebral ischaemia and tert‐butyl hydroperoxide (t‐BHP)‐injured PC12 cells were used to investigate the neuroprotective effects of Nef, particularly with regard to energy micro‐environment regulation by mitochondria and its mechanism in vivo and in vitro.

Key Results

Nef protected t‐BHP‐injured PC12 cells in vitro and ameliorated neurological score, infarct volume, regional cerebral blood flow, cerebral microstructure and oxidant‐related enzyme deficits in pMCAO rats in vivo. Nef also prevented mitochondrial dysfunction both in vivo and in vitro. The underlying mechanism of the mitochondrial protective effect of Nef might be attributed to the increased translocation of Nrf2 to the nucleus. Furthermore, the translocation of Nrf2 to nucleus was also decreased by sequestosome 1 (p62) knockdown.

Conclusions and Implications

Our results demonstrated that Nef might have therapeutic potential for ischaemic stroke and may exert its protective role through mitochondrial protection. This protection might be attributed to the modulation of Nrf2 signalling.

DOI: 10.1111/bph.14537

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