Autophagy protects against neural cell death induced by piperidine alkaloids present in Prosopis juliflora (Mesquite)

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Abstract

Prosopis juliflora is a shrub that has been used to feed animals and humans. However, a synergistic action of piperidine alkaloids has been suggested to be responsible for neurotoxic damage observed in animals. We investigated the involvement of programmed cell death (PCD) and autophagy on the mechanism of cell death induced by a total extract (TAE) of alkaloids and fraction (F32) from P. juliflora leaves composed majoritary of juliprosopine in a model of neuron/glial cell co-culture. We saw that TAE (30 µg/mL) and F32 (7.5 µg/mL) induced reduction in ATP levels and changes in mitochondrial membrane potential at 12 h exposure. Moreover, TAE and F32 induced caspase-9 activation, nuclear condensation and neuronal death at 16 h exposure. After 4 h, they induced autophagy characterized by decreases of P62 protein level, increase of LC3II expression and increase in number of GFP-LC3 cells. Interestingly, we demonstrated that inhibition of autophagy by bafilomycin and vinblastine increased the cell death induced by TAE and autophagy induced by serum deprivation and rapamycin reduced cell death induced by F32 at 24 h. These results indicate that the mechanism neural cell death induced by these alkaloids involves PCD via caspase-9 activation and autophagy, which seems to be an important protective mechanism.

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Silva, V. D. A., Cuevas, C., Muñoz, P., Villa, M., Ahumada-Castro, U., Huenchuguala, S., … Costa, S. L. (2017). Autophagy protects against neural cell death induced by piperidine alkaloids present in Prosopis juliflora (Mesquite). Anais Da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, 89(1), 247–261. https://doi.org/10.1590/0001-3765201720160477

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