Heme oxygenase-1 protects against Alzheimer's amyloid-beta(1-42)-induced toxicity via carbon monoxide production

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Hettiarachchi, NT ; Dallas, ML ; Al-Owais, MM ; Griffiths, HH ; Hooper, NM ; Scragg, JL ; Boyle, JP ; Peers, C (2014)
  • Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an inducible enzyme up-regulated in Alzheimer’s disease, catabolises heme to biliverdin, Fe2+ and carbon monoxide (CO). CO can protect neurones from oxidative stress-induced apoptosis by inhibiting Kv2.1 channels, which mediates cellular K+ efflux as an early step in the apoptotic cascade. Since apoptosis contributes to the neuronal loss associated with amyloid β peptide (Aβ) toxicity in AD, we investigated the protective effects of HO-1 and CO against Aβ1-42 toxicity in SH-SY5Y cells, employing cells stably transfected with empty vector or expressing the cellular prion protein, PrPc, and rat primary hippocampal neurons. Aβ1-42 (containing protofibrils) caused a concentration-dependent decrease in cell viability, attributable at least in part to induction of apoptosis, with the PrPc-expressing cells showing greater susceptibility to Aβ1-42 toxicity. Pharmacological induction or genetic over-expression of HO-1 significantly ameliorated the effects of Aβ1-42. The CO-donor CORM-2 protected cells against Aβ1-42 toxicity in a concentration-dependent manner. Electrophysiological studies revealed no differences in the outward current pre- and post-Aβ1-42 treatment suggesting that K+ channel activity is unaffected in these cells. Instead, Aβ toxicity was reduced by the L-type Ca2+ channel blocker nifedipine, and by the CaMKKII inhibitor, STO-609. Aβ also activated the downstream kinase, AMP-dependent protein kinase (AMPK). CO prevented this activation of AMPK. Our findings indicate that HO-1 protects against Aβ toxicity via production of CO. Protection does not arise from inhibition of apoptosis-associated K+ efflux, but rather by inhibition of AMPK activation, which has been recently implicated in the toxic effects of Aβ. These data provide a novel, beneficial effect of CO which adds to its growing potential as a therapeutic agent.
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