Nrf2-mediated neuroprotection in the MPTP mouse model of Parkinson's disease: Critical role for the astrocyte

Pei Chun Chen, Marcelo R. Vargas, Amar K. Pani, Richard J. Smeyne, Delinda A. Johnson, Yuet Wai Kan, Jeffrey A. Johnson

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500 Citations (Scopus)


Oxidative stress has been implicated in the etiology of Parkinson's disease (PD) and in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyri-dine (MPTP) animal model of PD. It is known that under conditions of oxidative stress, the transcription factor NF-E2-related factor (Nrf2) binds to antioxidant response element (ARE) to induce antioxidant and phase II detoxification enzymes. To investigate the role of Nrf2 in the process of MPTP-induced toxicity, mice expressing the human placental alkaline phosphatase (hPAP) gene driven by a promoter containing a core ARE sequence (ARE-hPAP) were used. ARE-hPAP mice were injected (30 mg/kg) once per day for 5 days and killed 7 days after the last MPTP injection. In response to this design, ARE-dependent gene expression was decreased in striatum whereas it was increased in substantia nigra. The same MPTP protocol was applied in Nrf2 +/+ and Nrf2 -/-mice; Nrf2 deficiency increases MPTP sensitivity. Furthermore, we evaluated the potential for astrocytic Nrf2 overexpression to protect from MPTP toxicity. Transgenic mice with Nrf2 under control of the astrocyte-specific promoter for the glial fribillary acidic protein (GFAP-Nrf2) on both a Nrf2 +/+ and Nrf2 -/- background were administered MPTP. In the latter case, only the astrocytes expressed Nrf2. Independent of background, MPTP-mediated toxicity was abolished in GFAP-Nrf2 mice. These striking results indicate that Nrf2 expression restricted to astrocytes is sufficient to protect against MPTP and astrocytic modulation of the Nrf2-ARE pathway is a promising target for therapeutics aimed at reducing or preventing neuronal death in PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2933-2938
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Feb 24

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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