Minocycline has been shown to have remarkably neuroprotective qualities, but underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We reported here the robust neuroprotection by minocycline against glutamate-induced apoptosis through regulations of p38 and Akt pathways. Pre-treatment of cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) with minocycline (10-100 μM) elicited a dose-dependent reduction of glutamate excitotoxicity and blocked glutamate-induced nuclear condensation and DNA fragmentations. Using patch-clamping and fluorescence Ca2+ imaging techniques, it was found that minocycline neither blocked NMDA receptors, nor reduced glutamate-caused rises in intracellular Ca2+. Instead, confirmed by immunoblots, minocycline in vivo and in vitro was shown to directly inhibit the activation of p38 caused by glutamate. A p38-specific inhibitor, SB203580, also attenuated glutamate excitotoxicity. Furthermore, the neuroprotective effects of minocycline were blocked by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) inhibitors LY294002 and wortmannin, while pharmacologic inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSKSβ) attenuated glutamate-induced apoptosis. In addition, immunoblots revealed that minocycline reversed the suppression of phosphorylated Akt and GSKSβ caused by glutamate, as were abolished by PI3-K inhibitors. These results demonstrate that minocycline prevents glutamate-induced apoptosis in CGNs by directly inhibiting p38 activity and maintaining the activation of PI3-K/Akt pathway, which offers a novel modality as to how the drug exerts protective effects.
- NMDA receptors
- Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience