Zeng B, Li Y, Niu B, Wang X, Cheng Y, Zhou Z, You T, Liu Y, Wang H, Xu J.
The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine is neuroprotective in several brain injury models. It is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder and related conditions, but its mechanism of action remains incompletely understood. Activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/protein kinase B/forkhead box O3a (PI3K/Akt/FoxO3a) and protein kinase A/cAMP-response element binding protein (PKA/CREB) signaling pathways has been strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of depression and might be the downstream target of fluoxetine. Here, we used PC12 cells exposed to corticosterone (CORT) to study the neuroprotective effects of fluoxetine and the involvement of the PI3K/Akt/FoxO3a and PKA/CREB signaling pathways. Our results show that CORT reduced PC12 cells viability by 70 %, and that fluoxetine showed a concentration-dependent neuroprotective effect. Neuroprotective effects of fluoxetine were abolished by inhibition of PI3K, Akt, and PKA using LY294002, KRX-0401, and H89, respectively. Treatment of PC12 cells with fluoxetine resulted in increased phosphorylation of Akt, FoxO3a, and CREB. Fluoxetine also dose-dependently rescued the phosphorylation levels of Akt, FoxO3a, and CREB, following administration of CORT (from 99 to 110, 56 to 170, 80 to 170 %, respectively). In addition, inhibition of PKA and PI3K/Akt resulted in decreased levels of p-CREB, p-Akt, and p-FoxO3a in the presence of fluoxetine. Furthermore, fluoxetine reversed CORT-induced upregulation of p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (Puma) and Bcl-2-interacting mediator of cell death (Bim) via the PI3K/Akt/FoxO3a signaling pathway. H89 treatment reversed the effect of fluoxetine on the mRNA level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which was decreased in the presence of CORT. Our data indicate that fluoxetine elicited neuroprotection toward CORT-induced cell death that involves dual regulation from PI3K/Akt/FoxO3a and PKA/CREB pathways.