Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)

Neferine attenuates the protein level and toxicity of mutant huntingtin in PC-12 cells via induction of autophagy.

PMID 25699594


Mutant huntingtin aggregation is highly associated with the pathogenesis of Huntington's disease, an adult-onset autosomal dominant disorder, which leads to a loss of motor control and decline in cognitive function. Recent literature has revealed the protective role of autophagy in neurodegenerative diseases through degradation of mutant toxic proteins, including huntingtin or a-synuclein. Through the GFP-LC3 autophagy detection platform, we have  identified  neferine,  isolated  from  the  lotus  seed  embryo  of Nelumbo nucifera, which is able to induce autophagy through an AMPK-mTOR-dependent pathway. Furthermore, by overexpressing huntingtin with 74 CAG repeats (EGFP-HTT 74) in PC-12 cells, neferine reduces both the protein level and toxicity of mutant huntingtin through an autophagy-related gene 7 (Atg7)-dependent mechanism. With the variety of novel active compounds present in medicinal herbs, our current study suggests the possible protective mechanism of an autophagy inducer isolated from Chinese herbal medicine, which is crucial for its further development into a potential therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative disorders in the future.