Cystatin C as a potential therapeutic mediator against Parkinson's disease via VEGF-induced angiogenesis and enhanced neuronal autophagy in neurovascular units

Jing Zou, Zhaoyu Chen, Xiaobo Wei, Zhigang Chen, Yongmei Fu, Xiaoyan Yang, Dan Chen, Rui Wang, Peter Jenner, Jia Hong Lu, Min Li, Zhuohua Zhang, Beisha Tang, Kunlin Jin, Qing Wang

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Cystatin C (CYS C, Cst3) is an endogenous cysteine protease inhibitor that plays neuroprotective roles in neurodegenerative diseases. We aimed to explore the association of CYS C with Parkinson's disease (PD) models and investigate its involvement in the role of neurovascular units (NVUs) in PD neuro-pathogenesis. We used A53T α-synuclein (SNCA) transgenic mice and 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned DAergic PC12 cells as experimental PD models to investigate the mechanisms behind this association. The injections of CYS C were administered to the right substantia nigra (SN) of A53T SNCA transgenic mice to measure the effects of CYS C in transgenic A53T SNCA mice. To explore the angiogenesis in vivo and in vitro, we used the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay and tube formation (TF) assay. We found that CYS C has a neuroprotective effect in this in vivo PD model. We observed increased VEGF, NURR1 and autophagy markers LC3B and decreased SNCA and apoptosis marker cleaved CASP3 in different brain regions of CYS C-treated A53T SNCA transgenic mice. In vitro, we observed that CYS C-induced VEGF, a secreted protein, attenuated 6-OHDA-lesioned DAergic PC12 cell degeneration by regulating p-PKC-α/p-ERK1/2-Nurr1 signaling and inducing autophagy. VEGF-mediated angiogenesis was markedly enhanced in the conditioned media of 6-OHDA-lesioned PC12 cells with CYS C-overexpression, whereas blockage of autophagy in CYS C-overexpressing PC12 cells significantly downregulated VEGF expression and the associated angiogenesis. Our data indicate that CYS C displays dual neuronal-vascular functions, promoting PC12 cell survival and angiogenesis via regulating the level of secreted VEGF in NVUs. Our study provides evidence that may aid in the development of an alternative approach for the treatment of PD through modulation of CYS C-mediated neuronal-vascular pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2854
JournalCell death & disease
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


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