The understanding of mechanisms involved in ischaemic brain tolerance may provide new therapeutical targets for stroke. In vivo genomic studies revealed an up-regulation of adrenomedullin expression by hypoxic pre-conditioning. Furthermore, adrenomedullin reduced ischaemia-induced brain damage in rodents. However, whether adrenomedullin is involved in hypoxic pre-conditioning-induced tolerance and whether adrenomedullin protects directly neurons against ischaemia remain unknown. Using a neuronal model of hypoxic pre-conditioning and oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD), we showed that 0.1% or 0.5% of O2 pre-conditioning reduced the OGD-induced neuronal death, whereas 1% or 2% of O2 pre-treatment did not induce neuroprotection. Adrenomedullin expression increased following the hypoxic period, and following OGD only in pre-conditioned (0.1% or 0.5% of O2) neurons. Adrenomedullin pre-treatment and post-treatment reduced the OGD-induced neuronal death, partly through PI3kinase-dependent pathway. However, adrenomedullin antagonism during hypoxic pre-conditioning failed to inhibit the neuroprotection whereas adrenomedullin antagonism following OGD abolished the hypoxic pre-conditioning-induced neuroprotection. Finally, we showed that adrenomedullin is involved in neuroprotection induced by endothelial cells and microglia. In contrast, neuroprotection induced by astrocytes occurred through adrenomedullin-independent mechanisms. Altogether, our results suggest that adrenomedullin is an effector of the hypoxic pre-conditioning-induced neuronal tolerance and a potent autocrine and paracrine neuroprotective factor during cerebral ischaemia.
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