495 (1), 1014-1021

2018 Jan 1

Activation of AMP-activated Protein Kinase by Compound 991 Protects Osteoblasts From Dexamethasone

Yong-Yi Xu 1Feng-Li Chen 2Feng Ji 3Hao-Dong Fei 1Yue Xie 1Shou-Guo Wang 4


Dexamethasone (Dex) induces direct cytotoxicity to cultured osteoblasts. The benzimidazole derivative compound 991 ("C991") is a novel and highly-efficient AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activator. Here, in both MC3T3-E1 osteoblastic cells and primary murine osteoblasts, treatment with C991 activated AMPK signaling, and significantly attenuated Dex-induced apoptotic and non-apoptotic cell death. AMPKα1 knockdown (by shRNA), complete knockout (by CRISPR/Cas9 method) or dominant negative mutation (T172A) not only blocked C991-mediated AMPK activation, but also abolished its pro-survival effect against Dex in osteoblasts. Further studies showed that C991 boosted nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) activity and induced mRNA expression of NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-regulated genes (heme oxygenase-1 and NADPH quinone oxidoreductase 1). Additionally, C991 alleviated Dex-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in osteoblasts. Notably, genetic AMPK inhibition reversed the anti-oxidant actions by C991 in Dex-treated osteoblasts. Together, we conclude that C991 activates AMPK signaling to protect osteoblasts from Dex.

Keywords: AMPK; Dexamethasone; Nrf2; Osteoblasts; Oxidative stress.

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