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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2012, Article ID 424285, 11 pages
Research Article

N-Acetyl Cysteine Protects against Methamphetamine-Induced Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration via Modulation of Redox Status and Autophagy in Dopaminergic Cells

Parkinson's Disorder Research Laboratory, Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

Received 19 July 2012; Accepted 27 August 2012

Academic Editor: José Manuel Fuentes Rodríguez

Copyright © 2012 Prashanth Chandramani Shivalingappa 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.


Methamphetamine- (MA-) induced neurotoxicity is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and enhanced oxidative stress. Our previous study demonstrated that MA induces autophagy in a dopaminergic neuronal cell model (N27 cells). The cellular mechanisms underlying MA-induced autophagy and apoptosis remain poorly characterized. In the present study we sought to investigate the importance of GSH redox status in MA-induced neurotoxicity using a thiol antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Morphological and biochemical analysis revealed that MA-induced autophagy in N27 dopaminergic cells was associated with pronounced depletion of GSH levels. Moreover, pretreatment with NAC reduced MA-induced GSH depletion and autophagy, while depletion of GSH using L-buthionine sulfoximine (L-BSO) enhanced autophagy. Furthermore, treatment with NAC significantly attenuated MA-induced apoptotic cell death as well as oxidative stress markers, namely, 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE). Together, these results suggest that NAC exhibits significant protective effects against MA-induced dopaminergic cell death, presumably via modulation of the GSH level and autophagy. Collectively, our data provide mechanistic insights into the role of cellular GSH redox status in MA-induced autophagy and apoptotic cell death, and additional studies are needed to determine the therapeutic effectiveness of cellular redox modifiers in attenuating dopaminergic neurodegeneration in vivo.