Lipoprotein Receptor–Related Protein-6 Protects the Brain From Ischemic Injury
Background and Purpose—Loss-of-function mutations of the lipoprotein receptor–related protein-6 (LRP6), a coreceptor in the Wingless-related integration site-β−catenin prosurvival pathway, have been implicated in myocardial ischemia and neurodegeneration. However, it remains to be established whether LRP6 is also involved in ischemic brain injury. We used LRP6+/− mice to examine the role of this receptor in the mechanisms of focal cerebral ischemia.
Methods—Focal cerebral ischemia was induced by transient occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. Motor deficits and infarct volume were assessed 3 days later. Glycogen-synthase-kinase-3β (GSK-3β) phosphorylation was examined by Western blotting with phosphospecific antibodies, and the mitochondrial membrane potential changes induced by Ca2+ were also assessed.
Results—LRP6+/− mice have larger stroke and more severe motor deficits, effects that were independent of intraischemic cerebral blood flow, vascular factors, or cytosolic β-catenin levels. Rather, LRP6 haploinsufficiency increased the activating phosphorylation and decreased the inhibitory phosphorylation of GSK-3β, a kinase involved in proinflammatory signaling and mitochondrial dysfunction. Accordingly, postischemic inflammatory gene expression was enhanced in LRP6+/− mice. Furthermore, the association of mitochondria with activated GSK-3β was increased in LRP6+/− mice, resulting in a reduction in the Ca2+ handling ability of mitochondria. The mitochondrial dysfunction was reversed by pharmacological inhibition of GSK-3β.
Conclusions—LRP6 activates an endogenous neuroprotective pathway that acts independently of β-catenin by controlling GSK-3β activity and preventing its deleterious mitochondrial and proinflammatory effects. The findings raise the possibility that emerging treatment strategies for diseases attributable to LRP6 loss-of-function mutations could also lead to new therapeutic avenues for ischemic stroke.
- Received February 28, 2013.
- Revision received April 7, 2013.
- Accepted April 29, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.