Progesterone suppresses Aβ42-induced neuroinflammation by enhancing autophagy in astrocytes
Autophagy is an intracellular catabolic mechanism essential for recycling intracellular unfolding protein and eliminating toxic protein aggregates. Several studies have shown that deficient autophagy is implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD) progression. To date, rapidly emerging evidence suggests that neurosteroid progesterone (PG) may play an important role in ameliorating AD. However, the role of PG and its neuroprotective mechanism in regulating autophagy still require further investigation. Here, we investigated the protective effects of PG against Aβ-induced inflammatory responses in astrocytes and its underlying mechanism in mediating autophagy. Remarkably, Aβ induced astrocyte dysfunction in autophagic activation and up-regulated inflammatory secretion. However, the autophagy inducer rapamycin (RAPA) significantly suppressed Aβ-induced inflammation in astrocytes. In astrocytes, treatment with Aβ caused autophagy deficiency, whereas PG significantly increased autophagy activation. Finally, PG suppressed Aβ-induced neuroinflammatory production via enhancing autophagy together with regulating mTOR signaling. Taken together, these results show that autophagy is a vital mechanism against Aβ-induced neuroinflammatory responses in astrocytes and demonstrate the potential neuroprotective mechanism of PG in suppressing neuroinflammatory responses by enhancing autophagy. Therefore, uncovering the neuroprotective mechanism of PG may provide new insight into novel therapies for the amelioration of AD.