Elevated levels of acrolein, an α,β-unsaturated aldehyde are detected in the brain of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). In the present study, the neuroprotective effect of baicalein (a phenolic flavonoid in the dried root of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi) on acrolein-induced neurodegeneration of nigrostriatal dopaminergic system was investigated using local infusion of acrolein in the substantia nigra (SN) of rat brain. Systemic administration of baicalein (30 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly attenuated acrolein-induced elevations in 4-hydroxy-2-noneal (a product of lipid peroxida-tion), N-(3-formyl-3,4-dehydropiperidino)lysine (a biomarker of acrolein-conjugated proteins), and heme-oxygenase-1 levels (a redox-regulated protein) in the infused SN, indicating that baicalein inhibited acrolein-induced oxidative stress and protein conjugation. Furthermore, baicalein reduced acrolein-induced elevations in glial fibrillary acidic protein (a biomarker of activated astrocytes), ED-1 (a biomarker of activated microglia), and mature cathepsin B levels (a cysteine lysosom-al protease), suggesting that baicalein attenuated acrolein-induced neuroinflammation. Moreover, baicalein attenuated acrolein-induced caspase 1 activation (a pro-inflammatory caspase) and interleukin-1β levels, indicating that baicalein prevented acrolein-induced inflammasome activation. In addition, baicalein significantly attenuated acrolein-induced caspase 3 activation (a biomarker of apoptosis) as well as acrolein-induced elevation in receptor interacting protein kinase (RIPK) 3 levels (an initiator of necroptosis), indicating that baicalein attenuated apoptosis and necroptosis. At the same time, baicalein mitigated acrolein-induced reduction in dopamine levels in the striatum ipsilateral to acrolein-infused SN. In conclusion, our data suggest that baicalein is neuroprotective via inhibiting oxidative stress, protein conjugation, and inflammation. Furthermore, baicalein prevents acrolein-induced program cell deaths, suggesting that baicalein is therapeutically useful for slowing PD progression.
- Inflammasome formation