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Cell death & disease

Non-amyloidogenic effects of α2 adrenergic agonists: implications for brimonidine-mediated neuroprotection.


PMID 27929541

Abstract

The amyloid beta (Aβ) pathway is strongly implicated in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and more recently, glaucoma. Here, we identify the α2 adrenergic receptor agonists (α2ARA) used to lower intraocular pressure can prevent retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death via the non-amyloidogenic Aβ-pathway. Neuroprotective effects were confirmed in vivo and in vitro in different glaucoma-related models using α2ARAs brimonidine (BMD), clonidine (Clo) and dexmedetomidine. α2ARA treatment significantly reduced RGC apoptosis in experimental-glaucoma models by 97.7% and 92.8% (BMD, P<0.01) and 98% and 92.3% (Clo, P<0.01)) at 3 and 8 weeks, respectively. A reduction was seen in an experimental Aβ-induced neurotoxicity model (67% BMD and 88.6% Clo, both P<0.01, respectively), and in vitro, where α2ARAs significantly (P<0.05) prevented cell death, under both hypoxic (CoCl2) and stress (UV) conditions. In experimental-glaucoma, BMD induced ninefold and 25-fold and 36-fold and fourfold reductions in Aβ and amyloid precursor protein (APP) levels at 3 and 8 weeks, respectively, in the RGC layer, with similar results with Clo, and in vitro with all three α2ARAs. BMD significantly increased soluble APPα (sAPPα) levels at 3 and 8 weeks (2.1 and 1.6-fold) in vivo and in vitro with the CoCl2 and UV-light insults. Furthermore, treatment of UV-insulted cells with an sAPPα antibody significantly reduced cell viability compared with BMD-treated control (52%), co-treatment (33%) and untreated control (27%). Finally, we show that α2ARAs modulate levels of laminin and MMP-9 in RGCs, potentially linked to changes in Aβ through APP processing. Together, these results provide new evidence that α2ARAs are neuroprotective through their effects on the Aβ pathway and sAPPα, which to our knowledge, is the first description. Studies have identified the need for α-secretase activators and sAPPα-mimetics in neurodegeneration; α2ARAs, already clinically available, present a promising therapy, with applications not only to reducing RGC death in glaucoma but also other neurodegenerative processes involving Aβ.

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