Aim: Patients with long-standing diabetes commonly develop diabetic encephalopathy, which is characterized by cognitive impairment and dementia. To identify potential treatments for diabetic encephalopathy, we focused on the protective action of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) against neural cell apoptosis. In this study, we evaluated whether exposure of cells to GLP-1 leads to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) transactivation and signaling through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR/GCLc/redox pathway, which we previously reported. Methods: We monitored the phosphorylation of EGFR and Akt in PC12 cells exposed to MG and GLP-1 that had been first incubated in the presence or absence of various inhibitors of EGFR transactivation. Results: DAPI staining revealed that pretreatment of cells with BiPS, HB-EGF and anti-TGF-α neutralization antibodies or AG1478 abrogated the ability of GLP-1 to rescue cells from MG-induced apoptosis. We show that exposure of PC12 cells to GLP-1 induces EGFR phosphorylation and that this effect was inhibited by prior exposure of the cells to BiPS, HB-EGF and anti-TGF-α neutralization antibodies or AG1478. Interestingly, these agents also diminished the capacity of GLP-1 to protect cells from MG-induced apoptosis. Moreover, these agents reduced GLP-1-induced phosphorylation of Akt. EGF itself also protected the cells from MG-induced apoptosis and induced phosphorylation of Akt, which was inhibited by LY294002. Conclusion: The neuroprotective effects of GLP-1 against MG-induced apoptosis are mediated by EGFR transactivation, which signals through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR/GCLc/redox pathway in PC12 cells.

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