Background: Perinatal exposure to hyperhomocysteinemia might disturb neurogenesis during brain development and growth. Also, high levels of homocysteine trigger neurodegeneration in several experimental models. However, the putative mechanisms of homocysteine-induced toxicity in the developing nervous system have poorly been elucidated. This study was aimed to investigate homocysteine effects in undifferentiated neuroblastoma cells, Neuro2a. Results: A 4 h exposure to homocysteine in a concentration range of 10-100 μM did not affect cell viability and ROS production in Neuro2a cell cultures. Instead, ROS levels were increased by two-three folds in cells treated with 250 μM and 500 μM homocysteine, respectively, in comparison with control cells. Also, the highest homocysteine dose significantly reduced the viable cell number by 40%. Notably, the treatment with homocysteine (250 μM-500 μM) in the presence of antioxidants, such as N-acetylcysteine and IRFI 016, a synthetic α-tocopherol analogue, recovered cell viability and significantly reduced homocysteine-evoked increases in ROS production. Moreover, antioxidants, particularly IRFI 016, were able to counteract NF-κB activation induced by 250 μM homocysteine. Cell treatment with 250 μM homocysteine also triggered the onset of apoptosis, as demonstrated by the increased expression of early apoptotic markers such as Bax, caspase-3 and p53. In contrast, Bcl2 expression was not affected by homocysteine exposure. Interestingly, the specific inhibition of NF-κB nuclear translocation by the synthetic peptide SN50 was able to almost completely suppress the homocysteine-evoked rises in pro-apoptotic protein expression as well as in caspase-3 activity. Further, also IRFI 016 and N-acetylcysteine were able to significantly reduce caspase-3 activation induced by homocysteine treatment. Conclusion: These observations suggest an involvement of redox state alterations and activated NF-κB in apoptosis onset triggered by homocysteine in neuroblastoma cells Neuro2a. However, further investigations are needed to characterize molecular events involved in the NF-κB activation induced by homocysteine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience