Cyclo-glycylproline (cGP), a cyclic dipeptide containing a condensation bond between glycine and proline, is produced by the cyclization of the N-terminal tripeptide of insulin-like growth factor-1. Previous studies have shown that cGP administration exerts a neuroprotective effect and enhances the regenerative ability in rats with ischemic brain injury. The efficacy of cGP is medicated by regulating the bioavailability of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), however, the molecular mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of cGP on brain damage remains to be elucidated. In the current study, we investigated the cGP-mediated molecular mechanism in human fetal neural stem cells (hfNSCs) exposed to oxidative stress, which is a key factor affecting the development of several brain diseases, including traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s disease. We found that cGP treatment attenuated oxidative stress-induced cell death in cultured hfNSCs in a dose-dependent manner. Transcriptome analysis revealed that under oxidative stress conditions, p53-mediated signaling was activated, accompanied by upregulation of mouse double minute 2 homolog (MDM2), a p53-specific E3 ubiquitin ligase, in cGP-treated hfNSCs. By using a comprehensive protein phosphorylation array, we found that cGP induced the activation of Akt signaling pathway, which enhanced the expression of MDM2, in hfNSCs exposed to oxidative stress. Moreover, the MDM2 inhibitor nutlin-3 inhibited the protective effect of cGP on oxidative stress-induced cell death and apoptosis. Therefore, cGP attenuates oxidative stress-induced cell death mediated by the interplay between IGF-1 signaling and the MDM2-p53 pathway in human NSCs. We revealed the molecular mechanism underlying cGP-induced neuroprotective properties in a model of brain damage.
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