Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 298, Issue 1–2, pp 187–194 | Cite as

Curcumin attenuates glutamate-induced HT22 cell death by suppressing MAP kinase signaling

Original paper


Glutamate induces cell death by upsetting the cellular redox homeostasis, termed oxidative glutamate toxicity, in a mouse hippocampal cell line, HT22. Extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) 1/2 are known key players in this process. Here we characterized the roles of both MAP kinases and cell cycle regulators in mediating oxidative glutamate toxicity and the neuroprotective mechanisms of curcumin in HT22 cells. c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 kinase were activated during the glutamate-induced HT22 cell death, but at a later stage than ERK activation. Treatment with a JNK inhibitor, SP600125, or a p38 kinase inhibitor, SB203580, partly attenuated this cell death. Curcumin, a natural inhibitor of JNK signaling, protected the HT22 cells from glutamate-induced death at nanomolar concentrations more efficiently than SP600125. These doses of curcumin affected neither the level of intracellular glutathione nor the level of reactive oxygen species, but inactivated JNK and p38 significantly. Moreover, curcumin markedly upregulated a cell-cycle inhibitory protein, p21cip1, and downregulated cyclin D1 levels, which might help the cell death prevention. Our results suggest that curcumin has a neuroprotective effect against oxidative glutamate toxicity by inhibiting MAP kinase signaling and influencing cell-cycle regulation.


Neuroprotection Curcumin Glutamate p21cip1 c-Jun N-terminal kinase Cell cycle 


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We thank Dr. Chae Young Hwang and Dr. Sung Sup Park for helpful discussion, and Sang-Hyun Min and Sun-Woo Yoon for technical support. Grants from KOSEF, KRF, and KRIBB Research Initiative Program supported this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Functional ProteomicsKorea Research Institute of Bioscience and BiotechnologyYusongKorea
  2. 2.Graduate School of BiotechnologyKorea UniversitySeoulKorea

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