Neuroprotection of Insulin against Oxidative Stress-induced Apoptosis in Cultured Retinal Neurons: Involvement of Phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt Signal Pathway

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In order to investigate the neuroprotection of insulin in retinal neurons, we used retinal neuronal culture as a model system to study the protective effects of insulin against H2O2-induced cytotoxicity and apoptotic death. Primary retinal neuronal cultures were grown from retinas of 0-2-day old Sprague-Dawley rats. Cell viability was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide assay. Apoptotic cell death was evaluated by the TdT-mediated digoxigenin-dUTP nick-end labeling assay, and by DNA laddering analysis. Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activity was measured using phosphoinositide 4,5-bisphophate and [γ-32P] ATP as substrate. Western blot analysis with anti-phospho-Akt (pS473) antibody was performed to examine the level of phosphorylated Akt. We observed that treatment with 100 μM H2O2 for 24 h significantly decreased cell viability and induced apoptotic death of retinal neurons, and that pretreatment with 10 nM insulin significantly inhibited or attenuated H2O2-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis. Pretreatment with LY294002, a specific PI3K inhibitor, abolished the cytoprotective effect of insulin. Insulin also strongly activated both PI3K and the downstream effector Akt. These results suggest that insulin protects retinal neurons from oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and that the PI3K/Akt signal pathway is involved in insulin-mediated retinal neuroprotection.

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