Pyrroloquinoline quinone promotes mitochondrial biogenesis in rotenone-induced Parkinson’s disease model via AMPK activation

Qiong Cheng1, Juan Chen1, Hui Guo1, Jin-li Lu1, Jing Zhou1, Xin-yu Guo2, Yue Shi2, Yu Zhang2, Shu Yu1, Qi Zhang1, Fei Ding1,3
1 Key Laboratory of Neuroregeneration of Jiangsu and Ministry of Education, Co-innovation Center of Neuroregeneration, Nantong University, Nantong 226001, China
2 School of Medicine, Nantong University, Nantong 226001, China
3 Jiangsu Clinical Medicine Center of Tissue Engineering and Nerve Injury Repair, Nantong 226001, China
Correspondence to: Qi Zhang:, Fei Ding:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-020-0487-2
Received: 26 February 2020
Accepted: 19 July 2020
Advance online: 28 August 2020


Mitochondrial dysfunction is considered to be one of the important pathogenesis in Parkinson’s disease (PD). We previously showed that pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) could protect SH-SY5Y cells and dopaminergic neurons from cytotoxicity and prevent mitochondrial dysfunction in rotenone-induced PD models. In the present study we investigated the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of PQQ in a mouse PD model, which was established by intraperitoneal injection of rotenone (3 mg·kg−1·d−1, ip) for 3 weeks. Meanwhile the mice were treated with PQQ (0.8, 4, 20 mg·kg−1·d−1, ip) right after rotenone injection for 3 weeks. We showed that PQQ treatment dose-dependently alleviated the locomotor deficits and nigral dopaminergic neuron loss in PD mice. Furthermore, PQQ treatment significantly diminished the reduction of mitochondria number and their pathological change in the midbrain. PQQ dose-dependently blocked rotenone-caused reduction in the expression of PGC-1α and TFAM, two key activators of mitochondrial gene transcription, in the midbrain. In rotenone-injured human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, PTMScan Direct analysis revealed that treatment with PQQ (100 μM) differentially regulated protein phosphorylation; the differentially expressed phosphorylated proteins included the signaling pathways related with adenosine 5′-monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway. We conducted Western blot analysis and confirmed that AMPK was activated by PQQ both in PD mice and in rotenone-injured SH-SY5Y cells. Pretreatment with AMPK inhibitor dorsomorphin (4 μM) significantly attenuated the protective effect and mitochondrial biogenesis by PQQ treatment in rotenone-injured SH-SY5Y cells. Taken together, PQQ promotes mitochondrial biogenesis in rotenone-injured mice and SH-SY5Y cells via activation of AMPK signaling pathway.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; rotenone pyrroloquinoline quinone; mitochondrial biogenesis; AMPK; PTMScan Direct analysis

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