Research Papers:

PARP inhibitors protect against sex- and AAG-dependent alkylation-induced neural degeneration

Mariacarmela Allocca, Joshua J. Corrigan, Kimberly R. Fake, Jennifer A. Calvo and Leona D. Samson _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:68707-68720. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19844

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Mariacarmela Allocca1,3, Joshua J. Corrigan1,3, Kimberly R. Fake1,3, Jennifer A. Calvo1,3 and Leona D. Samson1,2,3,4

1Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

2Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

3Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

4David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Correspondence to:

Leona D. Samson, email: [email protected]

Keywords: alkylating agents, PARP1, PARP inhibitors, AAG/MPG, retinal and cerebellar degeneration

Received: April 19, 2017    Accepted: June 08, 2017    Published: August 03, 2017


Alkylating agents are commonly used to treat cancer. Although base excision repair (BER) is a major pathway for repairing DNA alkylation damage, under certain conditions, the initiation of BER produces toxic repair intermediates that damage healthy tissues. The initiation of BER by the alkyladenine DNA glycosylase (AAG, a.k.a. MPG) can mediate alkylation-induced cytotoxicity in specific cells in the retina and cerebellum of male mice. Cytotoxicity in both wild-type and Aag-transgenic (AagTg) mice is abrogated in the absence of Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP1). Here, we tested whether PARP inhibitors can also prevent alkylation-induced retinal and cerebellar degeneration in male and female WT and AagTg mice. Importantly, we found that WT mice display sex-dependent alkylation-induced retinal damage (but not cerebellar damage), with WT males being more sensitive than females. Accordingly, estradiol treatment protects males against alkylation-induced retinal degeneration. In AagTg male and female mice, the alkylation-induced tissue damage in both the retina and cerebellum is exacerbated and the sex difference in the retina is abolished. PARP inhibitors, much like Parp1 gene deletion, protect against alkylation-induced AAG-dependent neuronal degeneration in WT and AagTg mice, regardless of the gender, but their efficacy in preventing alkylation-induced neuronal degeneration depends on PARP inhibitor characteristics and doses. The recent surge in the use of PARP inhibitors in combination with cancer chemotherapeutic alkylating agents might represent a powerful tool for obtaining increased therapeutic efficacy while avoiding the collateral effects of alkylating agents in healthy tissues.

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