Endocrine disrupting compound 4-nonylphenol and neurodegeneration

Jessica Martinez Jurado, University of Texas at El Paso


Neurodegeneration, a progressive loss of nerve cells (neurons), occurs in many neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Cytoskeletal disruption in neurons and aggregation of proteins associated with these disorders is the hallmark of neurodegeneration. However, the cause of neurodegenerative disorders is unknown and currently there are no effective drug treatments. Aging is the most consistent risk factor for developing a neurodegenerative disorder, and recent evidence suggests that environmental factors, which act as endocrine disruptors, pose a risk in the disease process. 4- nonylphenol (4-NP), an endocrine-disrupting compound (EDC), has been shown to affect brain development and may cause neurodegeneration. In the environment, 4-NP arises as a degradation product of alkylphenol polyethoxylates, compounds widely used as nonionic surfactants in commercial production, as well as in herbicides, pesticides, polystyrene plastics, and paints and has been shown to undergo high level of accumulation in biological tissues. However, the mechanism by which 4-NP exerts its effect is not understood. Recent results from our laboratory indicate that Gβγ, an important component of the G protein-signaling pathway, induces neurite outgrowth and that the interactions of Gβγ with microtubules (MTs), an important component of the cytoskeleton, is important for this process. Furthermore, we found that blocking the Gβγ-MT interaction induces neurodegeneration. The goal of the present research is to determine whether 4-NP inhibits neurite outgrowth and induces neurodegeneration by altering the Gβγ-MT- mediated pathway, and if other cytoskeletal components are involved in this process. Pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells were used to conduct the study because they respond to nerve growth factor (NGF) and exhibit a typical phenotype of neurons. In Specific Aim 1, using biochemical, pharmacological, and immunoconfocal methodologies, I have demonstrated that 4- NP inhibits neurite outgrowth and induces neurodegeneration by altering MT-Gβγ interaction in PC12 cells. In Specific Aim 2, I have conducted the proteomic analysis of 4-NP treated cells and found that the compound affects the cytoskeletal profile in NGF-differentiated PC12 cells. In conclusion, I propose that one of the mechanisms by which 4-NP causes neuronal damage is by altering the Gβγ-cytoskeletal mediated pathway, which is critical for neuronal growth and development.

Subject Area

Neurosciences|Cellular biology|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Martinez Jurado, Jessica, "Endocrine disrupting compound 4-nonylphenol and neurodegeneration" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1551893.