Low-Dose Dexamethasone Treatment Promotes the Pro-Survival Signalling Pathway in the Adult Rat Prefrontal Cortex
AuthorsDrakulić, Dunja R.
Stanojlović, Miloš R.
Mitrović, Nataša Lj.
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Synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone (DEX), a highly potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive agent, is widely used in the treatment of brain cancer, as well as for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The present study aimed to determine whether low-dose subchronic DEX treatment (100g/kg for eight consecutive days) exerts long-term effects on apoptosis in the adult rat prefrontal cortex (PFC) by examining the expression of cell death-promoting molecules [poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), p53, procaspase 3, cleaved caspase 3, Bax] and cell-survival molecules (AKT, Bcl-2). The results obtained revealed that body, thymus and adrenal gland weights, as well corticosterone levels, in the serum and PFC were reduced 1day after the last DEX injection. In the PFC, DEX caused activation of AKT, augmentation of pro-survival Bcl-2 protein and an enhanced Bcl-2/Bax protein ratio, as well Bcl-2 translocation to the mitochondria. An unaltered profile with respect to the protein expression ...of apoptotic molecules PARP, procaspase 3 and Bax was detected, whereas p53 protein was decreased. Reverse transcriptase -polymerase chain reaction analysis showed a decrease of p53 mRNA levels and no significant difference in Bcl-2 and Bax mRNA expression in DEX-treated rats. Finally, a DNA fragmentation assay and Fluoro-Jade staining demonstrated no considerable changes in apoptosis in the rat PFC. Our findings support the concept that low-dose DEX creates a hypocorticoid state in the brain and also indicate that subchronic DEX treatment activates the pro-survival signalling pathway but does not change apoptotic markers in the rat PFC. This mechanism might be relevant for the DEX-induced apoptosis resistance observed during and after chemotherapy of patients with brain tumours.