Inhibition of Rac1 ameliorates neuronal oxidative stress damageviareducing Bcl-2/Rac1 complex formation in mitochondria through PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway
Although the neuroprotective effects of Rac1 inhibition have been reported in various cerebral ischemic models, the molecular mechanisms of action have not yet been fully elucidated. In this study, we investigated whether the inhibition of Rac1 provided neuroprotection in a diabetic rat model of focal cerebral ischemia and hyperglycemia-exposed PC-12 cells. Intracerebroventricular administration of lentivirus expressing the Rac1 small hairpin RNA (shRNA) and specific Rac1 inhibitor NSC23766 not only decreased the infarct volumes and improved neurologic deficits with a correlated significant activation of mitochondrial DNA specific proteins, such as OGG1 and POLG, but also elevated Bcl-2 S70 phosphorylation in mitochondria. Furthermore, the levels of p-PI3K, p-Akt and p-mTOR increased, while 8-OHdG, ROS production and Bcl-2/Rac1 complex formation in mitochondria reduced in both Rac1-shRNA- and NSC23766-treated rats. Moreover, to confirm our in vivo observations, inhibition of Rac1 activity by NSC23766 suppressed the interactions between Bcl-2 and Rac1 in the mitochondria of PC-12 cells cultured in high glucose conditions and protected PC-12 cells from high glucose-induced neurotoxicity. More importantly, these beneficial effects of Rac1 inhibition were abolished by PI3K inhibitor LY294002. In contrast to NSC23766 treatment, LY294002 had little effect on the decrement of p-PTEN level. Taken together, these findings revealed novel neuroprotective roles of Rac1 inhibition against cerebral ischemic reperfusion injury in vivo and high glucose-induced neurotoxicity in PC-12 cells in vitro, by reducing Bcl-2/Rac1 complex formation in mitochondria through the activation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR survival pathway.