A DJ-1 based peptide attenuates dopaminergic degeneration in mice models of Parkinson's disease via enhancing Nrf2

Nirit Lev, Yael Barhum, Tali Ben-Zur, Israel Aharony, Lena Trifonov, Noa Regev, Eldad Melamed, Arie Gruzman, Daniel Offen

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32 Scopus citations


Drugs currently used for treating Parkinson's disease patients provide symptomatic relief without altering the neurodegenerative process. Our aim was to examine the possibility of using DJ-1 (PARK7), as a novel therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease. We designed a short peptide, named ND-13. This peptide consists of a 13 amino acids segment of the DJ-1-protein attached to 7 amino acids derived from TAT, a cell penetrating protein. We examined the effects of ND-13 using in vitro and in vivo experimental models of Parkinson's disease. We demonstrated that ND-13 protects cultured cells against oxidative and neurotoxic insults, reduced reactive oxygen species accumulation, activated the protective erythroid-2 related factor 2 system and increased cell survival. ND-13 robustly attenuated dopaminergic system dysfunction and in improved the behavioral outcome in the 6-hydroxydopamine mouse model of Parkinson's disease, both in wild type and in DJ-1 knockout mice. Moreover, ND-13 restored dopamine content in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model. These findings validate DJ-1 as a promising therapeutic target in Parkinson's disease and identify a novel peptide with clinical potential, which may be significant for a broader range of neurological diseases, possibly with an important impact for the neurosciences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0127549
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 29 May 2015

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Lev et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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