DHA protects PC12 cells against oxidative stress and apoptotic signals through the activation of the NFE2L2/HO-1 axis

Maria Elisabetta Clementi, Giacomo Lazzarino, Beatrice Sampaolese, Anna Brancato, Giuseppe Tringali

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review

10 Citazioni (Scopus)


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega‑3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, derived mainly from fish oil. It is well known that DHA is present in high concentrations in nervous tissue and plays an important role in brain development and neuroprotection. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying its role remain to be fully elucidated. In this study, to enhance our understanding of the pathophysiological role of DHA, we investigated the possible neuroprotective mechanisms of action of DHA against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)‑induced oxidative damage in a rat pheochromocytoma cell line (PC12). Specifically, we evaluated the viability, oxidation potential, and the expression and production of antioxidant/cytoprotective enzymes, and eventual apoptosis. We found that pre‑treatment with DHA (24 h) protected the cells from H2O2‑induced oxidative damage. In particular, pre‑treatment with DHA: i) Antagonized the consistent decrease in viability observed following exposure to H2O2 for 24 h; ii) reduced the high levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) associated with H2O2‑induced oxidative stress; iii) increased the intracellular levels of enzymatic antioxidants [superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH‑Px)] both under basal conditions and following H2O2 exposure; iv) augmented the intracellular levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and ascorbic acid, while it reduced the malondialdehyde (MDA) levels under conditions of oxidative stress; v) upregulated the expression of nuclear factor (erythroid‑derived 2)‑like 2 (NFE2L2) and its downstream target protein, heme‑oxygenase‑1 (HO‑1); and vi) induced an anti‑apoptotic effect by decreasing Bax and increasing Bcl2 expression. These findings provide evidence suggesting that DHA is able to prevent H2O2‑induced oxidative damage to PC12 cells, which is attributed to its antioxidant and anti‑apoptotic effects via the regulation NFE2L2/HO‑1 signaling. Therefore, DHA may play protective role in neurodegenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)2523-2531
Numero di pagine9
RivistaInternational Journal of Molecular Medicine
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2019


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Heme Oxygenase-1
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Oxidative Stress
  • PC12 Cells
  • Rats
  • Superoxide Dismutase


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