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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016, Article ID 4512309, 9 pages
Research Article

Acetaldehyde Induces Cytotoxicity of SH-SY5Y Cells via Inhibition of Akt Activation and Induction of Oxidative Stress

Department of Bioengineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Weihai, Shandong 264209, China

Received 13 June 2015; Accepted 14 July 2015

Academic Editor: Michela Battistelli

Copyright © 2016 Tingting Yan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to brain tissue damage and cognitive dysfunction. It has been shown that heavy drinking is associated with an earlier onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Acetaldehyde, the most toxic metabolite of ethanol, is speculated to mediate the brain tissue damage and cognitive dysfunction induced by the chronic excessive consumption of alcohol. However, the exact mechanisms by which acetaldehyde induces neurotoxicity are not totally understood. In this study, we investigated the cytotoxic effects of acetaldehyde in SH-SY5Y cells and found that acetaldehyde induced apoptosis of SH-SY5Y cells by downregulating the expression of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL and upregulating the expression of proapoptotic Bax. Acetaldehyde treatment led to a significant decrease in the levels of activated Akt and cyclic AMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB). In addition, acetaldehyde induced the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) while inhibiting the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs, p44/p42MAPK). Meanwhile, acetaldehyde treatment caused an increase in the production of reactive oxygen species and elevated the oxidative stress in SH-SY5Y cells. Therefore, acetaldehyde induces cytotoxicity of SH-SY5Y cells via promotion of apoptotic signaling, inhibition of cell survival pathway, and induction of oxidative stress.