Apomorphine rescues reactive oxygen species-induced apoptosis of fibroblasts with mitochondrial disease

Akihiko Miyauchi, Takeshi Kouga, Eriko F. Jimbo, Tetsuro Matsuhashi, Takaaki Abe, Takanori Yamagata, Hitoshi Osaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Mitochondrial disease is a genetic disorder in which individuals suffer from energy insufficiency. The various clinical phenotypes of mitochondrial disease include Leigh syndrome (LS), myopathy encephalopathy lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS). Thus far, no curative treatment is available, and effective treatment options are eagerly awaited. We examined the cell protective effect of an existing commercially available chemical library on fibroblasts from four patients with LS and MELAS and identified apomorphine as a potential therapeutic drug for mitochondrial disease. We conducted a cell viability assay under oxidative stress induced by L-butionine (S, R)-sulfoximine (BSO), a glutathione synthesis inhibitor. Among the chemicals of library, 4 compounds (apomorphine, olanzapine, phenothiazine and ethopropazine) rescued cells from death induced by oxidative stress much more effectively than idebenone, which was used as a positive control. The EC50 value showed that apomorphine was the most effective compound. Apomorphine also significantly improved all of the assessed oxygen consumption rate values by the extracellular flux analyzer for fibroblasts from LS patients with complex I deficiency. In addition, the elevation of the Growth Differentiation Factor-15 (GDF-15), a biomarker of mitochondrial disease, was significantly reduced by apomorphine. Among 441 apomorphine-responsive genes identified by the microarray, apomorphine induced the expression of genes that inhibit the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity and inflammatory responses, suggesting that apomorphine induced cell survival via a new potential pathway. In conclusion, apomorphine rescued fibroblasts from cell death under oxidative stress and improved the mitochondrial respiratory activity and appears to be potentially useful for treating mitochondrial disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-120
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov


  • Apomorphine
  • Inflammation
  • Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Mitochondrial respiratory activity
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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