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Keywords:

  • Caspase 1;
  • Caspase 3;
  • cDNA microarray;
  • c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK);
  • dopaminergic cell death;
  • heme oxygenase-1;
  • oxidative stress;
  • Parkinson's disease;
  • ROS

Recent etiological study in twins (Tanner et al. 1999) strongly suggests that environmental factors play an important role in typical, non-familial Parkinson's disease (PD), beginning after age 50. Epidemiological risk factor analyses of typical PD cases have identified several neurotoxicants, including MPP+ (the active metabolite of MPTP), paraquat, dieldrin, manganese and salsolinol. Here, we tested the hypothesis that these neurotoxic agents might induce cell death in our nigral dopaminergic cell line, SN4741 (Son et al. 1999) through a common molecular mechanism. Our initial experiments revealed that treatment with both MPP+ and the other PD-related neurotoxicants induced apoptotic cell death in SN4741 cells, following initial increases of H2O2-related ROS activity and subsequent activation of JNK1/2 MAP kinases. Moreover, we have demonstrated that during dopaminergic cell death cascades, MPP+, the neurotoxicants and an oxidant, H2O2 equally induce the ROS-dependent events. Remarkably, the oxidant treatment alone induced similar sequential molecular events: ROS increase, activation of JNK MAP kinases, activation of the PITSLRE kinase, p110, by both Caspase-1 and Caspase-3-like activities and apoptotic cell death. Pharmacological intervention using the combination of the antioxidant Trolox and a pan-caspase inhibitor Boc-(Asp)-fmk (BAF) exerted significant neuroprotection against ROS-induced dopaminergic cell death. Finally, the high throughput cDNA microarray screening using the current model identified downstream response genes, such as heme oxygenase-1, a constituent of Lewy bodies, that can be the useful biomarkers to monitor the pathological conditions of dopaminergic neurons under neurotoxic insult.