Calcineurin inhibition enhances motor neuron survival following injury

Kelvin K.W. Hui, Nicole Liadis, Jennifer Robertson, Anish Kanungo, Jeffrey T. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The immunosuppressive agents cyclosporin A (CsA) and FK-506 have previously been shown to exhibit neurotrophic and neuroprotective properties in vivo. Given that significant clinical expertise exists for both drugs, they represent an attractive starting point for treatment of acute neural injuries. One putative mechanism for neuroprotection by these drugs relates to inhibition of calcineurin activity. However each drug-immunophilin complex can potentially influence additional signal transduction pathways. Furthermore, several non-immunosuppressive immunophilin ligands have been described as possessing neuroprotective properties, suggesting that neuroprotection may be separable from calcineurin inhibition. In the present study, we examined the mechanism of this neuroprotection in facial motor neurons following axotomy-induced injury. Similar to previous studies in rats, CsA and FK-506 enhanced motor neuron survival in mice following acute injury. To examine the mechanism responsible for neuroprotection by these agents, pharmacologic inhibitors of several potential alternate signalling pathways (17-(allylamino)-17-demethoxygeldanamycin, rapamycin, cypermethrin) were evaluated with respect to neuroprotection. Of these, only cypermethrin, a direct calcineurin inhibitor not previously associated with neuronal survival properties, was observed to significantly enhance motor neuron survival following injury. The results demonstrate for the first time that direct inhibition of calcineurin is neuroprotective in vivo. These data support a model in which calcineurin inhibition promotes neuronal survival, distinct from effects upon neurite outgrowth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-686
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Facial nerve
  • Immunophilin ligands
  • Mice
  • Neuronal survival
  • Programmed cell death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Calcineurin inhibition enhances motor neuron survival following injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this