Mefloquine neurotoxicity is mediated by non-receptor tyrosine kinase

Dejan Milatovic, Jerry W. Jenkins, Jonathan E. Hood, Yingchun Yu, Lu Rongzhu, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Among several available antimalarial drugs, mefloquine has proven to be effective against drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and remains the drug of choice for both therapy and chemoprophylaxis. However, mefloquine is known to cause adverse neurological and/or psychiatric symptoms, which offset its therapeutic advantage. The exact mechanisms leading to the adverse neurological effects of mefloquine are poorly defined. Alterations in neurotransmitter release and calcium homeostasis, the inhibition of cholinesterases and the interaction with adenosine A 2A receptors have been hypothesized to play prominent roles in mediating the deleterious effects of this drug. Our recent data have established that mefloquine can also trigger oxidative damage and subsequent neurodegeneration in rat cortical primary neurons. Furthermore, we have utilized a system biology-centered approach and have constructed a pathway model of cellular responses to mefloquine, identifying non-receptor tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) as a critical target in mediating mefloquine neurotoxicity. In this study, we sought to establish an experimental validation of Pyk2 using gene-silencing techniques (siRNA). We have examined whether the downregulation of Pyk2 in primary rat cortical neurons alters mefloquine neurotoxicity by evaluating cell viability, apoptosis and oxidative stress. Results from our study have confirmed that mefloquine neurotoxicity is associated with apoptotic response and oxidative injury, and we have demonstrated that mefloquine affects primary rat cortical neurons, at least in part, via Pyk2. The implication of these findings may prove beneficial in suppressing the neurological side effects of mefloquine and developing effective therapeutic modalities to offset its adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-585
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroToxicology
Volume32
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Mefloquine
  • Neuronal viability
  • Oxidative stress
  • Pyk2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology

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