Knockdown of long noncoding antisense RNA brain-derived neurotrophic factor attenuates hypoxia/reoxygenation-induced nerve cell apoptosis through the BDNF–TrkB–PI3K/Akt signaling pathway

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Abstract

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in neuronal cell apoptosis. The antisense RNA of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF-AS) is a natural antisense transcript that is transcribed opposite the gene that encodes BDNF. The aim of this study was to determine whether knockdown of BDNF-AS can suppress hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R)-induced neuronal cell apoptosis and whether this is mediated by the BDNF–TrkB–PI3K/Akt pathway. We detected the expression of BDNF and BDNF-AS in brain tissue from 20 patients with cerebral infarction and five patients with other diseases (but no cerebral ischemia). We found that BDNF expression was significantly downregulated in patients with cerebral infarction, whereas the expression of BDNF-AS was significantly upregulated. In both human cortical neurons (HCN2) and human astrocytes, H/R significantly induced the expression of BDNF-AS, but significantly decreased BDNF expression. H/R also significantly induced apoptosis and reduced the mitochondrial membrane potential in these cells. Following downregulation of BDNF-AS by siRNA in human cortical neurons and human astrocyte cells, BDNF expression was significantly upregulated and the H/R-induced upregulation of BDNF-AS was significantly attenuated. BDNF-AS siRNA inhibited H/R-induced cell apoptosis and ameliorated the H/R-induced suppression of mitochondrial membrane potential. H/R inhibited the expression of BDNF, p-AKT/AKT, and TrKB, and this inhibition was recovered by BDNF-AS siRNA. In summary, this study indicates that BDNF-AS siRNA induces activation of the BDNF–TrkB–PI3K/Akt pathway following H/R-induced neurotoxicity. These findings will be useful toward the application of BDNF-AS siRNA for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

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