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Keywords:

  • fenofibrate;
  • nitric oxide;
  • peroxisome;
  • peroxisome proliferator activated receptor

Abstract

Inflammation is known to cause significant neuronal damage and axonal injury in many neurological disorders. Among the range of inflammatory mediators, nitric oxide is a potent neurotoxic agent. Recent evidence has suggested that cellular peroxisomes may be important in protecting neurons from inflammatory damage. To assess the influence of peroxisomal activation on nitric oxide-mediated neurotoxicity, we investigated the effects of the peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α agonist fenofibrate on cortical neurons exposed to a nitric oxide donor or co-cultured with activated microglia. Fenofibrate protected neurons and axons against both nitric oxide donor-induced and microglia-derived nitric oxide-induced toxicity. Moreover, cortical neurons treated with this compound showed a significant increase in gene expression of ABCD3 (the gene encoding for peroxisomal membrane protein-70), with a concomitant increase in protein levels of PPAR-α and catalase, which was associated with a functional increase in the activity of this enzyme. Collectively, these observations provide evidence that modulation of PPAR-α activity and peroxisomal function by fenofibrate attenuates nitric oxide-mediated neuronal and axonal damage, suggesting a new therapeutic approach to protect against neurodegenerative changes associated with neuroinflammation.