Ghrelin protects spinal cord motoneurons against chronic glutamate-induced excitotoxicity via ERK1/2 and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt/glycogen synthase kinase-3β pathways.

Abstract

Excitotoxic degeneration of spinal cord motoneurons has been proposed as a pathogenic mechanism in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recently, we have reported that ghrelin, an endogenous ligand for growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) 1a, functions as a neuroprotective factor in various animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, the potential neuroprotective effects of ghrelin against chronic glutamate-induced cell death were studied by exposing organotypic spinal cord cultures (OSCC) to threohydroxyaspartate (THA), as a model of excitotoxic motoneuron degeneration. Ghrelin receptor was expressed on spinal cord motoneurons. Exposure of OSCC to THA for 3 weeks resulted in a significant loss of motoneurons. However, THA-induced loss of motoneurons was significantly reduced by treatment of ghrelin. Exposure of OSCC to the receptor-specific antagonist D-Lys-3-GHRP-6 abolished the protective effect of ghrelin against THA. Treatment of spinal cord cultures with ghrelin caused rapid phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, Akt, and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). The effect of ghrelin on motoneuron survival was blocked by the MEK inhibitor PD98059 and the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002. Taken together, these findings indicate that ghrelin has neuroprotective effects against chronic glutamate toxicity by activating the MAPK and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways and suggest that administration of ghrelin may have the potential therapeutic value for the prevention of motoneuron degeneration in human ALS. Our data also suggest that PI3K/Akt-mediated inactivation of GSK-3β in motoneurons contributes to the protective effect of ghrelin.

DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.04.003
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@article{Lim2011GhrelinPS, title={Ghrelin protects spinal cord motoneurons against chronic glutamate-induced excitotoxicity via ERK1/2 and phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt/glycogen synthase kinase-3β pathways.}, author={Eunjin Lim and Sungyoub Lee and Endan Li and Yumi Kim and Seungjoon Park}, journal={Experimental neurology}, year={2011}, volume={230 1}, pages={114-22} }