Lovastatin, a secondary metabolite isolated from Monascus-fermented red rice mold, has neuroprotective activity and permeates the blood-brain barrier. The aim of this study was to enhance the activity of lovastatin for potential use as a treatment for neuronal degeneration in Parkinson's disease. Six lovastatin-derived compounds were semisynthesized and screened for neurocytoprotective activity against 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced toxicity in human neuroblastoma PC12 cells. Four compounds, designated as 3a, 3d, 3e, and 3f, significantly enhanced cell viability. In particular, compound 3f showed excellent neurocytoprotective activity (97.0 ± 2.7%). Annexin V-FITC and propidium iodide double staining and 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining indicated that compound 3f reduced 6-OHDA-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells. Compound 3f also reduced caspase-3, -8, and -9 activities, and intracellular calcium concentrations elevated by 6-OHDA in a concentration-dependent manner, without inhibiting reactive oxygen species generation. JC-1 staining indicated that compound 3f also stabilized mitochondrial membrane potential. Thus, compound 3f may be used as a neurocytoprotective agent. Future studies should investigate its potential application as a treatment for Parkinson's disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas