Protective effect of thalidomide against N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced retinal neurotoxicity

Kazuhide Takada, Yasunari Munemasa, Junko Kuribayashi, Hiromi Fujino, Yasushi Kitaoka

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Thalidomide, an inhibitor of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) production, has been indicated to be useful for many inflammatory and oncogenic diseases. In the present study, we examined whether thalidomide (50 mg/kg/day, p.o.) has a protective effect against N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-induced retinal neurotoxicity in rats. A morphometric analysis showed that systemic administration of thalidomide protects neural cells in the ganglion cell layer (GCL) in a dose-dependent manner and significantly decreases the number of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL)-positive cells in GCL and in the inner nuclear layer (INL). ELISA showed that thalidomide significantly suppressed the elevation of TNF-α 6 and 24 hr after an NMDA injection. Western blot analysis revealed a significant increase in nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) p65 level in the retinas treated with NMDA at 24 hr after the injection, but not at 6 or 72 hr. Furthermore, an increase in p-JNK and p-p38 levels was also observed in the retina after NMDA injection. Thalidomide suppressed the increased expressions of NF-κB p65, p-JNK, and p-p38 after NMDA injection. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that thalidomide attenuated NF-κB p65 immunoreactivity in the GCL induced by NMDA treatment. In the NMDA-treated group, translocation of NF-κB p65 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus was detected in TUNEL-positive cells exposed to NMDA treatment. These results suggest new indications for thalidomide against neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1596-1604
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • NMDA
  • Retina


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