Paraquat (PQ) was demonstrated to induce dopaminergic neuron death and is used as a Parkinson's disease (PD) mimetic; however, its mechanism remains contradictory. Alternatively, minocycline is a second-generation tetracycline and is undergoing clinical trials for treating PD with an unresolved mechanism. We thus investigated the molecular mechanism of minocycline in preventing PQ-induced cytotoxicity. In this study, minocycline was effective in preventing PQ-induced apoptotic cell death, which involves the cleavages of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) and caspase 3 and increased fluorescence intensity of annexin V-FITC. In addition, PQ also quickly induced alterations of unfolded protein responses (UPRs) and subsequently dysfunction of the mitochondria (such as the decrease in membrane potential and increase in membrane permeability and superoxide formation). Finally, the mechanism of minocycline in preventing PQ-induced apoptosis might be mediated by attenuating endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, which respectively results in caspase-12 activation and the release of H 2O 2, HtrA2/Omi, and Smac/Diablo. Thus, minocycline could possibly be used to treat other neurodegenerative disorders with similar pathologic mechanisms.
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