Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 561–570 | Cite as

Indirubin-3-Oxime Effectively Prevents 6OHDA-Induced Neurotoxicity in PC12 Cells via Activating MEF2D Through the Inhibition of GSK3β

  • Shengquan Hu
  • Wei Cui
  • Zaijun Zhang
  • Shinghung Mak
  • Daping Xu
  • Gang Li
  • Yuanjia Hu
  • Yuqiang Wang
  • Mingyuen Lee
  • Karl Wahkeung Tsim
  • Yifan HanEmail author


Indirubin-3-oxime (I3O), a synthetic derivative of indirubin, was originally designed as potent inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) for leukemia therapy. In the current study, we have shown, for the first time, that I3O prevented 6-hydroxydopamine (6OHDA)-induced neuronal apoptosis and intracellular reactive oxygen species accumulation in PC12 cells in a concentration-dependent manner. GSK3β inhibitors but not CDK5 inhibitors reduced the neurotoxicity induced by 6OHDA. Moreover, the activation of GSK3β was observed after 6OHDA treatment. Furthermore, 6OHDA substantially decreased the transcriptional activity of myocyte enhancer factor 2D (MEF2D), a transcription factor that plays an important role in dopaminergic neuron survival, and reduced nuclear localized MEF2D expression. Interestingly, indirubin-3-oxime and GSK3β inhibitors prevented 6OHDA-induced dysregulation of MEF2D. In addition, short hairpin RNA-mediated decrease of MEF2D expression significantly abolished the neuroprotective effects of indirubin-3-oxime. Collectively, our results strongly suggested that indirubin-3-oxime prevented 6OHDA-induced neurotoxicity via activating MEF2D, possibly through the inhibition of GSK3β. In view of the capability of indirubin-3-oxime to cross the blood–brain barrier, our findings further indicated that indirubin-3-oxime might be a novel drug candidate for neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease in particular.


Parkinson’s disease Indirubin-3-oxime MEF2D GSK3β 6OHDA Neuroprotection 



Cyclin-dependent kinases


Central nervous system




2′7′-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate


Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium


Fetal bovine serum


Glycogen synthase kinase 3β


Myocyte enhancer factor 2 indirubin-3-oxime I3O




3(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2.5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide


Phosphate buffered saline


Parkinson’s disease


reactive oxygen species


Short hairpin RNA





This work was supported by grants from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (561011, 15101014), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (G-SB10 and G-UC15), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation Grant (2015 M570753), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81202510), Ningbo International Science and Technology Cooperation Project (No. 2014D10019), the Science and Technology Development Fund of Macao SAR (Ref. No. 134/2014/A3), and the Research Committee, University of Macau (Ref. No. MYRG2015-00214-ICMS-QRCM3).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shengquan Hu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wei Cui
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zaijun Zhang
    • 3
  • Shinghung Mak
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daping Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gang Li
    • 4
  • Yuanjia Hu
    • 5
  • Yuqiang Wang
    • 3
  • Mingyuen Lee
    • 5
  • Karl Wahkeung Tsim
    • 6
  • Yifan Han
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, Institute of Modern Chinese MedicineThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongChina
  2. 2.The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Shenzhen Research InstituteShenzhenChina
  3. 3.Institute of New Drug Research, Guangdong Province Key Laboratory of Pharmacodynamic, Constituents of Traditional Chinese Medicine & New Drug Research, College of PharmacyJinan UniversityGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.National Engineering Laboratory for Modern SilkCollege of Textile and Clothing Engineering, Soochow UniversitySuzhouChina
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medical SciencesUniversity of MacauMacauChina
  6. 6.Division of Life Science, Center for Chinese Medicine and State Key Laboratory of Molecular NeuroscienceThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyHong KongChina

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