Background: Desipramine is known principally as a tricyclic antidepressant drug used to promote recovery of depressed patients. It has also been used in a number of other psychiatric and medical conditions. The present study is the first to investigate the neuroprotective effect of desipramine. Methodology/Principal Findings: Mes23.5 dopaminergic cells were used to examine neuroprotective effect of desipramine. Western blot, reverse transcription-PCR, MTT assay, siRNA transfection and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) were carried out to assess the effects of desipramine. Desipramine induces endogenous anti-oxidative enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) protein and mRNA expression in concentration- and time-dependent manners. A different type of antidepressant SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), fluoxetine also shows similar effects of desipramine on HO-1 expression. Moreover, desipramine induces HO-1 expression through activation of ERK and JNK signaling pathways. Desipramine also increases NF-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) accumulation in the nucleus and enhances Nrf2-DNA binding activity. Moreover, desipramine-mediated increase of HO-1 expression is reduced by transfection with siRNA against Nrf2. On the other hand, pretreatment of desipramine protects neuronal cells against rotenone- and 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced neuronal death. Furthermore, inhibition of HO-1 activity by a HO-1 pharmacological inhibitor, ZnPP IX, attenuates the neuroprotective effect of desipramine. Otherwise, activation of HO-1 activity by HO-1 activator and inducer protect 6-OHDA-induced neuronal death. Conclusions/Significance: These findings suggest that desipramine-increased HO-1 expression is mediated by Nrf2 activation through the ERK and JNK signaling pathways. Our results also suggest that desipramine provides a novel effect of neuroprotection, and neurodegenerative process might play an important role in depression disorder. © 2012 Lin et al.
Lin, H. Y., Yeh, W. L., Huang, B. R., Lin, C., Lai, C. H., Lin, H., & Lu, D. Y. (2012). Desipramine Protects Neuronal Cell Death and Induces Heme Oxygenase-1 Expression in Mes23.5 Dopaminergic Neurons. PLoS ONE, 7(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050138