Escin activates AKT-Nrf2 signaling to protect retinal pigment epithelium cells from oxidative stress.Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Dec 25; 468(4):541-7.BB
Here we explored the anti-oxidative and cytoprotective potentials of escin, a natural triterpene-saponin, against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. We showed that escin remarkably attenuated H2O2-induced death and apoptosis of established (ARPE-19) and primary murine RPE cells. Meanwhile, ROS production and lipid peroxidation by H2O2 were remarkably inhibited by escin. Escin treatment in RPE cells resulted in NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling activation, evidenced by transcription of anti-oxidant-responsive element (ARE)-regulated genes, including HO-1, NQO-1 and SRXN-1. Knockdown of Nrf2 through targeted shRNAs/siRNAs alleviated escin-mediated ARE gene transcription, and almost abolished escin-mediated anti-oxidant activity and RPE cytoprotection against H2O2. Reversely, escin was more potent against H2O2 damages in Nrf2-over-expressed ARPE-19 cells. Further studies showed that escin-induced Nrf2 activation in RPE cells required AKT signaling. AKT inhibitors (LY294002 and perifosine) blocked escin-induced AKT activation, and dramatically inhibited Nrf2 phosphorylation, its cytosol accumulation and nuclear translocation in RPE cells. Escin-induced RPE cytoprotection against H2O2 was also alleviated by the AKT inhibitors. Together, these results demonstrate that escin protects RPE cells from oxidative stress possibly through activating AKT-Nrf2 signaling.