S-allyl cysteine protects against 6-hydroxydopamine-induced neurotoxicity in the rat striatum: involvement of Nrf2 transcription factor activation and modulation of signaling kinase cascades.
Pharmacological activation at the basal ganglia of the transcription factor Nrf2, guardian of redox homeostasis, holds a strong promise for the slow progression of Parkinsons disease (PD). However, a potent Nrf2 activator in the brain still must be found. In this study, we have investigated the potential use of the antioxidant compound S-allyl cysteine (SAC) in the activation of Nrf2 in 6-hydoxydopamine (6-OHDA)-intoxicated rats. In the rat striatum, SAC by itself promoted the Nrf2 dissociation of Keap-1, its nuclear translocation, the subsequent association with small MafK protein, and further binding of the Nrf2/MafK complex to ARE sequence, as well as the up-regulation of Nrf2-dependent genes encoding the antioxidant enzymes HO-1, NQO-1, GR, and SOD-1. In vivo and in vitro experiments to identify signaling pathways activated by SAC pointed to Akt as the most likely kinase participating in Nrf2 activation by SAC. In PC12 cells, SAC stimulated the activation of Akt and ERK1/2 and inhibited JNK1/2/3 activation. In the rat striatum, the SAC-induced activation of Nrf2 is likely to contribute to inhibit the toxic effects of 6-OHDA evidenced by phase 2 antioxidant enzymes up-regulation, glutathione recovery, and attenuation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitric oxide (NO), and lipid peroxides formation. These early protective effects correlated with the long-term preservation of the cellular redox status, the striatal dopamine (DA) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) levels, and the improvement of motor skills. Therefore, this study indicates that, in addition to direct scavenging actions, the activation of Nrf2 by SAC might confer neuroprotective responses through the modulation of kinase signaling pathways in rodent models of PD, and suggests that this antioxidant molecule may have a therapeutic value in this human pathology.