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Poly(adenosine 5′-diphosphate ribose) polymerase (PARP) is a nuclear enzyme activated by DNA strand breaks and plays an important role in the tissue injury associated with ischemia and reperfusion. The aim of the present study was to investigate the protective effect of 5-aminoisoquinolinone (5-AIQ), a PARP inhibitor, against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis in H9c2 cardiomyocytes. 5-AIQ pretreatment significantly protected against H2O2-induced cell death, as determined by the XTT assay, cell counting, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling assay, and Western blot analysis of apoptosis-related proteins such as caspase-3, Bax, and Bcl-2. Upregulation of antioxidant enzymes such as manganese superoxide dismutase and catalase accompanied the protective effect of 5-AIQ on H2O2-induced cell death. Our data also showed that 5-AIQ pretreatment protected H9c2 cells from H2O2-induced apoptosis by triggering activation of Akt and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), and that the protective effect of 5-AIQ was diminished by the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 at a concentration that effectively abolished 5-AIQ-induced Akt and GSK-3β activation. In addition, inhibiting the Akt/GSK-3β pathway by LY294002 significantly attenuated the 5-AIQ-mediated decrease in cleaved caspase-3 and Bax activation and H9c2 cell apoptosis induction. Taken together, these results demonstrate that 5-AIQ prevents H2O2-induced apoptosis in H9c2 cells by reducing intracellular reactive oxygen species production, regulating apoptosis-related proteins, and activating the Akt/GSK-3β pathway.▸ 5-AIQ, a PARP inhibitor, decreased H2O2-induced H9c2 cell death and apoptosis. ▸ 5-AIQ upregulated antioxidant Mn-SOD and catalase, while decreasing ROS production. ▸ 5-AIQ decreased H2O2-induced increase in cleaved caspase-3 and Bax and decrease in Bcl2. ▸ 5-AIQ activated Akt and GSK-3β, the effect being abolished by PI3K inhibitor LY294002. ▸ LY294002 attenuated 5-AIQ-mediated effects on H9c2 apoptosis and related proteins.