Melatonin-mediated β-catenin activation protects neuron cells against prion protein-induced neurotoxicity

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Activation of β-catenin in neurons regulates mitochondrial function and protects against protein misfolding disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease. Melatonin, a natural secretory product of the pineal gland, exerts neuroprotective effects through the activation of β-catenin. In this study, melatonin increased β-catenin protein expression and activation in human neuroblastoma cell lines SH-SY5Y cells. Melatonin also inhibited PrP (106–126)-induced neurotoxicity and the inhibition attenuated by treatment of β-catenin inhibitor ICG-001. Activation of β-catenin blocked PrP (106–126)-mediated downregulation of anti-apoptotic protein survivin and Bcl-2. Reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential, translocation of Bax, and cytochrome c release which induced by PrP (106–126) treatment were inhibited by β-catenin activation, which contributed to prevented PrP (106–126)-induced neuronal cell death. In conclusion, β-catenin activation by melatonin prevented PrP (106–126)-induced neuronal cell death through regulating anti-apoptotic proteins and mitochondrial pathways. These results also suggest the therapeutic value of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in prion-related disorders as influenced by melatonin.

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