Berberine exerts antioxidant effects via protection of spiral ganglion cells against cytomegalovirus-induced apoptosis

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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the leading cause of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in children because of its damage to the cochlea and spiral ganglion cells. Therefore, it has become a top priority to devise new methods to effectively protect spiral ganglion cells from damage. Berberine (BBR) has gained attention for its vast beneficial biological effects through immunomodulation, and its anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptosis properties. However, the effect of BBR on spiral ganglion cells and molecular mechanisms are still unclear. This study aims to investigate whether BBR has an anti-apoptosis effect in CMV-induced apoptosis in cultured spiral ganglion cells and explore the possible mechanism. In this study, TUNEL and MTT assays significantly demonstrated that low doses of BBR did not promote cell apoptosis and they also inhibited the CMV-induced cultured spiral ganglion cell apoptosis. Immunofluorescence and Western blot assays indicated that the anti-apoptosis effect of BBR was related to Nox3. Mitochondrial calcium and Western blot assays revealed that NMDAR1 mediated this anti-apoptosis effect. Our results demonstrated that BBR exerted an anti-apoptosis effect against CMV in cultured spiral ganglion cells, and the mechanism is related to NMDAR1/Nox3-mediated mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation.

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