Background: Agmatine is an endogenous polyamine formed by the decarboxylation of L-arginine. We investigated the protective effects of agmatine against hypoxia-induced apoptosis of immortalized rat retinal ganglion cells (RGC-5). RGC-5 cells were cultured in a closed hypoxic chamber (5% O2) with or without agmatine. Cell viability was determined by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assay and apoptosis was examined by annexin V and caspase-3 assays. Expression and phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs; JNK, ERK p44/42, and p38) and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) were investigated by Western immunoblot analysis. The effects of agmatine were compared to those of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a well-known protective neurotrophin for retinal ganglion cells. Results: After 48 hours of hypoxic culture, the LDH assay showed 52.3% cell loss, which was reduced to 25.6% and 30.1% when agmatine and BDNF were administered, respectively. This observed cell loss was due to apoptotic cell death, as established by annexin V and caspase-3 assays. Although total expression of MAPKs and NF-κB was not influenced by hypoxic injury, phosphorylation of these two proteins was increased. Agmatine reduced phosphorylation of JNK and NF-κB, while BDNF suppressed phosphorylation of ERK and p38. Conclusion: Our results showthat agmatine has neuroprotective effects against hypoxia-induced retinal ganglion cell damage in RGC-5 cells and that its effects may act through the JNK and NF-κB signaling pathways. Our data suggest that agmatine may lead to a novel therapeutic strategy to reduce retinal ganglion cell injury related to hypoxia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience