Oxidative stress induces proorphanin FQ and proenkephalin gene expression in astrocytes through p38- and ERK-MAP kinases and NF-κB

John Rosenberger, Gyorgy Petrovics, Beata Buzas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of stroke, traumatic brain injuries, and neurodegenerative diseases affecting both neuronal and glial cells in the CNS. In this study we have demonstrated that reactive oxygen species (ROS) dramatically induce the expression of two neuropeptide genes, the opioid proenkephalin (pENK) and the opioid-related proorphanin FQ (pOFQ; also known as pronociceptin) in primary astrocytes. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) treatment dose-dependently increased pENK and pOFQ mRNA levels with a maximal effect (∼15-fold increase) being detected at 50 μM concentration. Exposing the astrocyte cultures to hypoxia and subsequent re-oxygenation also led to a profound elevation of pOFQ and pENK mRNA levels. Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry revealed that H2O2 treatment elicited the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of ERK 1/2 and p38 MAP kinases. Blockade of the p38 or the ERK MAP kinase pathways (by SB202190 and PD98059, respectively) prevented the H2O2-induced increase in pENK and pOFQ mRNA levels indicating a central role for these cascades in the regulation of pOFQ and pENK genes in response to oxidative stress. Regulation of pOFQ and pENK gene expression by ERK and p38 activation may be mediated through the transcription factor cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB). We observed CREB phosphorylation in response to H2O2, which was also prevented by SB202190 and PD98059. The nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway appears to be involved exclusively in the induction of pOFQ transcription by H2O2, as NF-κB inhibitors antagonized the effect of oxidative stress on pOFQ, but not on pENK expression. The profound induction of these genes by oxidative stress and these other factors may suggest a role for orphanin FQ and enkephalin in injury and stress responses of the CNS and neuropathophysiological conditions involving reactive oxygen species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-44
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocyte
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • Nociceptin
  • Nuclear factor-κB
  • Orphanin FQ
  • Oxidative stress


Dive into the research topics of 'Oxidative stress induces proorphanin FQ and proenkephalin gene expression in astrocytes through p38- and ERK-MAP kinases and NF-κB'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this