Effects of PARP-1 signaling and conjugated linoleic acid on brain cell bioenergetics and survival
Hunt, Waylon T.
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Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Extracellular glutamate concentrations are tightly regulated to avoid over-stimulation of glutamate receptors, which leads to a cascade of deleterious processes collectively known as excitotoxicity. Excitotoxicity is common to several neurodegenerative disorders and CNS injuries, including stroke and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The projects described in this thesis were designed to uncover novel protective pathways in excitotoxic neurodegeneration. Excessive activation of the DNA repair enzyme, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1), is a convergence point for neuron death signaling in excitotoxic pathways. In AD, the peptide amyloid-β1-42 (Aβ1-42) is aberrantly produced, leading to excitotoxic neuron death in vitro. To investigate links between Aβ1-42 and PARP, we treated cultured cortical neurons with Aβ1-42 and determined whether PARP-1 contributes to neuron death. Increased neuron death was observed after Aβ1-42 exposure. A non-selective PARP-1/2 inhibitor significantly reduced Aβ1-42-induced death while elimination of PARP-1 alone was not neuroprotective. This suggests that PARP-2 or combined effects of PARP-1 and PARP-2 are required for Aβ1-42-induced neuron death. A hallmark of PARP over-activation is depletion of intracellular NAD+ and ATP levels, yet nearly all studies examining adenine nucleotide levels use separate biochemical samples to measure nucleotides individually. We developed two HPLC methods for simultaneous separation of NAD+, ATP, ADP and AMP. We determined that PARP-1 activation in astrocytes leads to near complete NAD+ depletion, followed by partial loss of ATP pools and total adenine nucleotide pools. Finally, we hypothesized that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally occurring polyunsaturated fatty acid, is capable of enhancing neuron survival after an excitotoxic insult. Cultured cortical neurons were exposed to glutamate in the presence and absence of CLA. CLA levels likely achievable in human plasma and brain tissue during dietary supplementation regimens, protected neurons against glutamate excitotoxicity when given during or up to five hours after glutamate exposure. Several markers of mitochondrial damage and intrinsic apoptosis were examined. CLA stabilized mitochondrial membrane potential and permeability, shedding light on the mechanism of CLA neuroprotection. Overall, our research suggests a role for PARP in Aβ1-42 toxicity and identifies a novel role for CLA in neuroprotection following excitotoxicity.