Neurochemical Research

, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 1635–1644 | Cite as

Apelin-13 Protects PC12 Cells from Corticosterone-Induced Apoptosis Through PI3K and ERKs Activation

  • Yunjun Zou
  • Bo Wang
  • Wan Fu
  • Shouhong Zhou
  • Yaxiong Nie
  • Shaowen Tian
Original Paper


It is widely accepted that environmental stress is a risk factor for mental disorders. Glucocorticoid hormones play a vital role in the regulation of physiological response to stress. High concentrations of corticosterone can induce cellular damage in PC12 cells, which possess typical neuronal features. Apelin and its receptor APJ are widely distributed in the central nervous system including limbic structures involved in stress responses. Previous studies have suggested that apelin has a neuroprotective function. However, the effect of apelin on corticosterone-induced neuronal damage remains to be elucidated. In the present study, we explored the potential protective activity of apelin-13 in PC12 cells treated with corticosterone and its underling mechanisms. The viability of the cells, the apoptosis of the cells, the level of phosphorylation of Akt (p-Akt) and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (p-ERKs) and cleaved caspase-3 expression were detected by MTT, Hoechst staining and flow cytometer assays and Western blotting. Results showed that corticosterone induced cells viability loss, cell apoptosis, down-regulation of p-Akt and p-ERKs and up-regulation of cleaved caspase-3. The effects induced by corticosterone were attenuated by apelin-13 pretreatment. Furthermore, apelin-13-mediated anti-viability loss, antiapoptosis and caspase-3 suppression activities were blocked by specific inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) (LY294002) and ERKs (PD98059). The data suggest that apelin-13 protects PC12 cells from corticosterone-induced apoptosis through activating PI3K/Akt and ERKs signaling pathways.


Apelin Corticosterone Apoptosis PI3K ERK PC12 cells 



This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81171281), Science and Technology Project of Hunan Province (2013FJ3133), the Hunan Key Technology R&D Program (2015SF2046-3), the Outstanding Youth Fund of the Department of Education of Hunan Province (15B208), the Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province (14JJ3104) and the Construct Program of the Key Discipline in Hunan Province.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. The current experiment was performed in accordance with the China laws.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology, First Affiliated HospitalUniversity of South ChinaHengyangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesiology, First Affiliated HospitalUniversity of South ChinaHengyangPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Physiology and Institute of Neuroscience, College of MedicineUniversity of South ChinaHengyangPeople’s Republic of China

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