Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

The mitochondrial-derived peptide humanin activates the ERK1/2, AKT, and STAT3 signaling pathways and has age-dependent signaling differences in the hippocampus

Su-Jeong Kim, Noel Guerrero, Gabriella Wassef, Jialin Xiao, Hemal H. Mehta, Pinchas Cohen and Kelvin Yen _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:46899-46912. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10380

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Su-Jeong Kim1, Noel Guerrero1, Gabriella Wassef1, Jialin Xiao1, Hemal H. Mehta1, Pinchas Cohen1 and Kelvin Yen1

1 Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Correspondence to:

Kelvin Yen, email:

Keywords: humanin, ERK1/2, AKT, STAT3, signaling pathway, Gerotarget

Received: April 22, 2016 Accepted: June 20, 2016 Published: July 01, 2016


Humanin is a small secreted peptide that is encoded in the mitochondrial genome. Humanin and its analogues have a protective role in multiple age-related diseases including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, through cytoprotective and neuroprotective effects both in vitro and in vivo. However, the humanin-mediated signaling pathways are not well understood. In this paper, we demonstrate that humanin acts through the GP130/IL6ST receptor complex to activate AKT, ERK1/2, and STAT3 signaling pathways. Humanin treatment increases phosphorylation in AKT, ERK 1/2, and STAT3 where PI3K, MEK, and JAK are involved in the activation of those three signaling pathways, respectively. Furthermore, old mice, but not young mice, injected with humanin showed an increase in phosphorylation in AKT and ERK1/2 in the hippocampus. These findings uncover a key signaling pathway of humanin that is important for humanin’s function and also demonstrates an age-specific in vivo effect in a region of the brain that is critical for memory formation in an age-dependent manner.

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