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1.  Prevention of JNK phosphorylation as a mechanism for rosiglitazone in neuroprotection after transient cerebral ischemia: activation of dual specificity phosphatase 
Rosiglitazone, a synthetic peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) agonist, prevents cell death after cerebral ischemia in animal models, but the underlying mechanism has not been clarified. In this study, we examined how rosiglitazone protects neurons against ischemia. Mice treated with rosiglitazone were subjected to 60 minutes of focal ischemia followed by reperfusion. Rosiglitazone reduced infarct volume after ischemia and reperfusion. We show that this neuroprotective effect was reversed with a PPARγ antagonist. Western blot analysis showed a significant increase in expression of phosphorylated stress-activated protein kinases (c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38) in ischemic brain tissue. Rosiglitazone blocked this increase. Furthermore, we observed that rosiglitazone increased expression of the dual-specificity phosphatase 8 (DUSP8) protein and messenger RNA in ischemic brain tissue. Dual-specificity phosphatase 8 is a mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase that can dephosphorylate JNK and p38. Another key finding of the present study was that knockdown of DUSP8 in primary cultured cortical neurons that were subjected to oxygen–glucose deprivation diminished rosiglitazone's effect on downregulation of JNK phosphorylation. Thus, rosiglitazone's neuroprotective effect after ischemia is mediated by blocking JNK phosphorylation induced by ischemia via DUSP8 upregulation.
PMCID: PMC3597369  PMID: 23032483
cerebral ischemia; c-Jun N-terminal kinase; dual-specificity phosphatase 8; p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase; rosiglitazone
2.  Interleukin 6-preconditioned neural stem cells reduce ischaemic injury in stroke mice 
Brain  2012;135(11):3298-3310.
Transplantation of neural stem cells provides a promising therapy for stroke. Its efficacy, however, might be limited because of massive grafted-cell death after transplantation, and its insufficient capability for tissue repair. Interleukin 6 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of various neurological disorders. Paradoxically, interleukin 6 promotes a pro-survival signalling pathway through activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3. In this study, we investigated whether cellular reprogramming of neural stem cells with interleukin 6 facilitates the effectiveness of cell transplantation therapy in ischaemic stroke. Neural stem cells harvested from the subventricular zone of foetal mice were preconditioned with interleukin 6 in vitro and transplanted into mouse brains 6 h or 7 days after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Interleukin 6 preconditioning protected the grafted neural stem cells from ischaemic reperfusion injury through signal transducer and activator of transcription 3-mediated upregulation of manganese superoxide dismutase, a primary mitochondrial antioxidant enzyme. In addition, interleukin 6 preconditioning induced secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor from the neural stem cells through activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, resulting in promotion of angiogenesis in the ischaemic brain. Furthermore, transplantation of interleukin 6-preconditioned neural stem cells significantly attenuated infarct size and improved neurological performance compared with non-preconditioned neural stem cells. This interleukin 6-induced amelioration of ischaemic insults was abolished by transfecting the neural stem cells with signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 small interfering RNA before transplantation. These results indicate that preconditioning with interleukin 6, which reprograms neural stem cells to tolerate oxidative stress after ischaemic reperfusion injury and to induce angiogenesis through activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, is a simple and beneficial approach for enhancing the effectiveness of cell transplantation therapy in ischaemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3501976  PMID: 23169920
cytokine preconditioning; oxidative stress; angiogenesis; ischaemic stroke; transplantation
3.  Neural Stem Cells Genetically Modified to Overexpress Cu/Zn-Superoxide Dismutase Enhance Amelioration of Ischemic Stroke in Mice 
Background and Purpose
The harsh host brain microenvironment caused by production of reactive oxygen species after ischemic reperfusion injury offers a significant challenge to survival of transplanted neural stem cells (NSCs) after ischemic stroke.
Copper/zinc-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is a specific antioxidant enzyme that counteracts superoxide anions. Here, we have investigated whether genetic manipulation to overexpress SOD1 enhances survival of grafted stem cells and accelerates amelioration of ischemic stroke.
NSCs genetically modified to overexpress or downexpress SOD1 were administered intracerebrally 2 days after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Histological and behavioral tests were examined from Days 0 to 28 after stroke.
Overexpression of SOD1 suppressed production of superoxide anions after ischemic reperfusion injury and reduced NSC death after transplantation. In contrast, downexpression of SOD1 promoted superoxide generation and increased oxidative stress-mediated NSC death. Transplantation of SOD1-overexpressing NSCs enhanced angiogenesis in the ischemic border zone through up-regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor. Moreover, grafted SOD1-overexpressing NSCs reduced infarct size and improved behavioral performance, compared with NSCs that were not genetically modified.
Our findings reveal a strong involvement of SOD1 expression in NSC survival after ischemic reperfusion injury. We propose that conferring antioxidant properties on NSCs by genetic manipulation of SOD1 is a potential approach for enhancing the effectiveness of cell transplantation therapy in ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3429712  PMID: 22713489
neural stem cell; ischemic stroke; copper/zinc-superoxide dismutase; neuroprotection
4.  Minocycline-Preconditioned Neural Stem Cells Enhance Neuroprotection after Ischemic Stroke in Rats 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(10):3462-3473.
Transplantation of neural stem cells (NSCs) offers a novel therapeutic strategy for stroke; however, massive grafted-cell death following transplantation, possibly due to a hostile host-brain environment, lessens the effectiveness of this approach. Here, we have investigated whether reprogramming NSCs with minocycline, a broadly-used antibiotic also known to possess cytoprotective properties, enhances survival of grafted cells and promotes neuroprotection in ischemic stroke. NSCs harvested from the subventricular zone of fetal rats were preconditioned with minocycline in vitro and transplanted into rat brains 6 h after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. Histological and behavioral tests were examined from days 0–28 after stroke. For in vitro experiments, NSCs were subjected to oxygen-glucose deprivation and reoxygenation. Cell viability and antioxidant gene expression were analyzed. Minocycline preconditioning protected the grafted NSCs from ischemic reperfusion injury via up-regulation of Nrf2 and Nrf2-regulated antioxidant genes. Additionally, preconditioning with minocycline induced the NSCs to release paracrine factors, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor, nerve growth factor, glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor. Moreover, transplantation of the minocycline-preconditioned NSCs significantly attenuated infarct size and improved neurological performance, compared with non-preconditioned NSCs. Minocycline-induced neuroprotection was abolished by transfecting the NSCs with Nrf2-small interfering RNA before transplantation. Thus, preconditioning with minocycline, which reprograms NSCs to tolerate oxidative stress after ischemic reperfusion injury and to express higher levels of paracrine factors through Nrf2 up-regulation, is a simple and safe approach to enhance the effectiveness of transplantation therapy in ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3315362  PMID: 22399769
5.  Oxidative Stress in Ischemic Brain Damage: Mechanisms of Cell Death and Potential Molecular Targets for Neuroprotection 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(8):1505-1517.
Significant amounts of oxygen free radicals (oxidants) are generated during cerebral ischemia/reperfusion, and oxidative stress plays an important role in brain damage after stroke. In addition to oxidizing macromolecules, leading to cell injury, oxidants are also involved in cell death/survival signal pathways and cause mitochondrial dysfunction. Experimental data from laboratory animals that either overexpress (transgenic) or are deficient in (knock-out) antioxidant proteins, mainly superoxide dismutase, have provided strong evidence of the role of oxidative stress in ischemic brain damage. In addition to mitochondria, recent reports demonstrate that NADPH oxidase (NOX), an important pro-oxidant enzyme, is also involved in the generation of oxidants in the brain after stroke. Inhibition of NOX is neuroprotective against cerebral ischemia. We propose that superoxide dismutase and NOX activity in the brain is a major determinant for ischemic damage/repair and that these major anti- and pro-oxidant enzymes are potential endogenous molecular targets for stroke therapy. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 1505–1517.
PMCID: PMC3061196  PMID: 20812869
6.  The protective effect of early hypothermia on PTEN phosphorylation correlates with free radical inhibition in rat stroke 
We recently showed that intraischemic moderate hypothermia (30°C) reduces ischemic damage through the Akt pathway after permanent distal middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats. The only Akt pathway component preserved by hypothermia is phosphorylated phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (p-PTEN), which suggests that p-PTEN may have a central role in neuroprotection. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are critically involved in mediating ischemic damage after stroke by interacting with signaling molecules, including Akt, PTEN, and δ-protein kinase C (PKC). We investigated the protective mechanisms of moderate hypothermia on these signaling proteins after transient focal ischemia in rats. Early moderate hypothermia (3 h) was administered 15 mins before reperfusion, and delayed moderate hypothermia (3 h) was applied 15 mins after reperfusion. Our results indicate that early hypothermia reduced infarction, whereas delayed hypothermia did not. However, both early and delayed hypothermia maintained levels of Mn-SOD (superoxide dismutase) and phosphorylated Akt and blocked δ-PKC cleavage, suggesting that these factors may not be critical to the protection of hypothermia. Nevertheless, early hypothermia preserved p-PTEN levels after reperfusion, whereas delayed hypothermia did not. Furthermore, ROS inhibition maintained levels of p-PTEN after stroke. Together, these findings suggest that phosphorylation levels of PTEN are closely associated with the protective effect of early hypothermia against stroke.
PMCID: PMC3221613  PMID: 19553907
focal ischemia; hypothermia; neuroprotection; stroke
7.  Reperfusion and Neurovascular Dysfunction in Stroke: From Basic Mechanisms to Potential Strategies for Neuroprotection 
Molecular neurobiology  2010;41(2-3):172-179.
Effective stroke therapies require recanalization of occluded cerebral blood vessels. However, reperfusion can cause neurovascular injury, leading to cerebral edema, brain hemorrhage, and neuronal death by apoptosis/necrosis. These complications, which result from excess production of reactive oxygen species in mitochondria, significantly limit the benefits of stroke therapies. We have developed a focal stroke model using mice deficient in mitochondrial manganese-superoxide dismutase (SOD2−/+) to investigate neurovascular endothelial damage that occurs during reperfusion. Following focal stroke and reperfusion, SOD2−/+ mice had delayed blood-brain barrier breakdown, associated with activation of matrix metalloproteinase and high brain hemorrhage rates, whereas a decrease in apoptosis and hemorrhage was observed in SOD2 overexpressors. Thus, induction and activation of SOD2 is a novel strategy for neurovascular protection after ischemia/reperfusion. Our recent study identified the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) as a transcription factor of the mouse SOD2 gene. During reperfusion, activation of STAT3 and its recruitment into the SOD2 gene were blocked, resulting in increased oxidative stress and neuronal apoptosis. In contrast, pharmacological activation of STAT3 induced SOD2 expression, which limits ischemic neuronal death. Our studies point to antioxidant-based neurovascular protective strategies as potential treatments to expand the therapeutic window of currently approved therapies.
PMCID: PMC2877155  PMID: 20157789
Cerebral ischemia; Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species; Mitochondria; Mn-SOD; STAT3; NADPH oxidase; CK2; Neuroprotective signaling
8.  Assessment of the proliferative, apoptotic and cellular renovation indices of the human mammary epithelium during the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(3):R306-R313.
During the menstrual cycle, the mammary gland goes through sequential waves of proliferation and apoptosis. In mammary epithelial cells, hormonal and non-hormonal factors regulate apoptosis. To determine the cyclical effects of gonadal steroids on breast homeostasis, we evaluated the apoptotic index (AI) determined by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining in human mammary epithelial cells during the spontaneous menstrual cycle and correlated it with cellular proliferation as determined by the expression of Ki-67 during the same period.
Normal breast tissue samples were obtained from 42 randomly selected patients in the proliferative (n = 21) and luteal (n = 21) phases. Menstrual cycle phase characterization was based on the date of the last and subsequent menses, and on progesterone serum levels obtained at the time of biopsy.
The proliferation index (PI), defined as the number of Ki-67-positive nuclei per 1,000 epithelial cells, was significantly larger in the luteal phase (30.46) than in the follicular phase (13.45; P = 0.0033). The AI was defined as the number of TUNEL-positive cells per 1,000 epithelial cells. The average AI values in both phases of the menstrual cycle were not statistically significant (P = 0.21). However, the cell renewal index (CRI = PI/AI) was significantly higher in the luteal phase (P = 0.033). A significant cyclical variation of PI, AI and CRI was observed. PI and AI peaks occurred on about the 24th day of the menstrual cycle, whereas the CRI reached higher values on the 28th day.
We conclude that proliferative activity is dependent mainly on hormonal fluctuations, whereas apoptotic activity is probably regulated by hormonal and non-hormonal factors.
PMCID: PMC1143573  PMID: 15987425
apoptosis; Ki-67; mammary gland; menstrual cycle; TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labeling

Results 1-8 (8)