Oxidative damage can lead to a wide range of diseases. Nrf2 is an important transcription factor that regulates many of the cytoprotective enzymes involved in the oxidative stress response. Therefore, targeting the regulation of Nrf2 activation is one logical and effective strategy to prevent or lower the risk of oxidative stress-related diseases. Until now, most research has focused on electrophilic indirect Nrf2 activators, but the risk of ‘off-target’ effects may be associated with these activators. To find novel small non-electrophilic modulators of Nrf2, we started from chemical agents derived from a connectivity map (cMap) and identified 22 non-electrophilic potential Nrf2-activating drugs through a drug repositioning tactic. By determining the expression changes of antioxidant genes in MCF7 cells that were treated with the potential Nrf2 activators using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) (qRT-PCR), astemizole was found to have a greater scale of upregulating antioxidant genes NQO1
, and GCLM
than the positive control d,l-sulforaphane, although the testing concentration was lower than that of the control. Astemizole is a good potential redox regulator and deserves more pharmacodynamic experimentation to test and verify its feasibility for use as an Nrf2 activator.
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