Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative movement disorder that is caused by a selective loss of dopaminergic neurons. Current PD treatments provide symptomatic relief but do not prevent or decelerate disease progression. Previous studies have suggested that acetylated and phosphorylated porphyran, derived from Porphyra
, produces a neuroprotective effect against 6-OHDA-induced damage. Due to its antioxidant and neuroprotective potential, this study evaluates whether oligo-porphyran (OP) could be beneficial in an experimental model of PD in mice. The drug 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) was intraperitoneally injected (20 mg/kg body weight) for seven days to simulate PD, followed by OP administration. We found that the behavioral deficits in spontaneous motor activity, latency to descend in a pole test, and suspension in a traction test were ameliorated, and excessive dopamine (DA) metabolism was suppressed after OP treatment. Additionally, we found that OP protected dopaminergic neurons by preventing MPTP-induced decreases in dopaminergic transporter and tyrosine hydroxylase protein levels. We speculated whether OP regulates a signaling pathway that affects the behavioral changes seen in PD mice. In this study, the PI3K/Akt/Bcl-2 pathway was detected. Our results demonstrate that OP increased the phosphorylation of PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β and inhibited the activation of caspase-3 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, with changes in the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. These results showed that OP might promote DA neuron survival in vivo by regulating the PI3K/Akt/Bcl-2 pathway, thereby ameliorating the neurobehavioral deficits in a PD mouse model and suggesting OP as a neuroprotective treatment for PD.
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