Epigenetic modification of Nrf2 by sulforaphane increases the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory capacity in a cellular model of Alzheimer's disease

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Sulforaphane was reported to exert neuroprotective effects via upregulating expression of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and has received increasing attention as an alternative candidate for treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the mechanism to account for Nrf2 upregulation by sulforaphane in AD remains unknown. Herein, we found that sulforaphane upregulated Nrf2 expression and promoted Nrf2 nuclear translocation via decreasing DNA methylation levels of the Nrf2 promoter in mouse neuroblastoma N2a cells stably expressing human Swedish mutant amyloid precursor protein (N2a/APPswe cells), a cellular model of AD. Furthermore, sulforaphane (1.25 and 2.5 μM) decreased the levels of amyloid β 1-40 (Aβ1-40) (21.7% and 33.4% decrease for intracellular Aβ1-40; 22.0% and 30.2% decrease in culture medium), Aβ1-42 (26.4% and 42.9% decrease for intracellular Aβ1-42; 25.8% and 43.8% decrease in culture medium), reactive oxygen species (15.0% and 28.5% decrease), and malondialdehyde (MDA) (34.4% and 39.2% decrease) and increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) (60.0% and 89.3% increase) activity in N2a/APPswe cells. Sulforaphane also decreased the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β (IL-1β) (16.5% and 33.6% decrease) and IL-6 (15.6% and 26.1% decrease) and reduced phosphorylated nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) p65 (19.2% and 32.2% decrease), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) (20.5% and 28.6% decrease), and iNOS protein (40.2% and 54.7% decrease) expression levels in N2a/APPswe cells. Our study suggested that sulforaphane upregulated the expression of Nrf2 and promoted the nuclear translocation of Nrf2 by decreasing DNA demethylation levels of the Nrf2 promoter, thus leading to antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects in a cellular model of AD.

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