Amyloid beta (Aβ) accumulation in the brain is one of the major pathological features of Alzheimer's disease. The active form of vitamin D (1,25(OH)2D3), which acts via its nuclear hormone receptor, vitamin D receptor (VDR), has been implicated in the treatment of Aβ pathology, and is thus considered as a neuroprotective agent. However, its underlying molecular mechanisms of action are not yet fully understood. Here, we aim to investigate whether the molecular mechanisms of 1,25(OH)2D3 in ameliorating Aβ toxicity involve an interplay of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF)-signaling in SH-SY5Y cells. Cells were treated with Aβ(25-35) as the source of toxicity, followed by the addition of 1,25(OH)2D3 with or without the GDNF inhibitor, heparinase III. The results show that 1,25(OH)2D3 modulated Aβ-induced reactive oxygen species, apoptosis, and tau protein hyperphosphorylation in SH-SY5Y cells. Additionally, 1,25(OH)2D3 restored the decreasing GDNF and the inhibited phosphorylation of the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt)/glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) protein expressions. In the presence of heparinase III, these damaging effects evoked by Aβ were not abolished by 1,25(OH)2D3. It appears 1,25(OH)2D3 is beneficial for the alleviation of Aβ neurotoxicity, and it might elicit its neuroprotection against Aβ neurotoxicity through an interplay with GDNF-signaling.
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