Huperzine A protects isolated rat brain mitochondria against β-amyloid peptide

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Our previous work in cells and animals showed that mitochondria are involved in the neuroprotective effect of huperzine A (HupA). In this study, the effects of HupA on isolated rat brain mitochondria were investigated. In addition to inhibiting the Aβ25-35 (40 μM)-induced decrease in mitochondrial respiration, adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) synthesis, enzyme activity, and transmembrane potential, HupA (0.01 or 0.1 μM) effectively prevented Aβ-induced mitochondrial swelling, reactive oxygen species increase, and cytochrome c release. More interestingly, administration of HupA to isolated mitochondria promoted the rate of ATP production and blocked mitochondrial swelling caused by normal osmosis. These results indicate that HupA protects mitochondria against Aβ at least in part by preserving membrane integrity and improving energy metabolism. These direct effects on mitochondria further extend the noncholinergic functions of HupA.

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