Chronic administration of the poloxamer 407 (P-407), a block copolymer, to elevate serum lipids in mice is a well-established mouse model of hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis. We tested the hypothesis that the activity of several types of proteases in heart and liver tissue is changed in the early stages of atherosclerosis development. Additionally, we evaluated whether increased serum lipids would induce anxiety in mice, as determined by using a ‘plus-maze’ test. The mice were administered P-407 by intraperitoneal injection twice a week for one month. P-407 administration to mice resulted in a marked increase in total serum cholesterol, atherogenic non-HDLcholesterol, and especially in total triglycerides, and it also increased anxiety. Morphological changes observed in P-407-treated mice included contractile type changes in cardiomyocytes and foamy macrophages in liver. A significant increase of cysteine proteases cathepsin B and cathepsin L (at 24 h) and aspartate protease cathepsin D (at both 24 h and 5 days) was determined in heart tissue following P-407 administration. However, no changes were noted in heart matrix metalloproteinase activity. The activity of cysteine and aspartate proteases was significantly increased in liver at both 24 hours and 5 days after P-407 administration. In conclusion, administration of P-407 to mice for one month resulted in increased anxiety, and more importantly, there was an increase in the activity of heart and liver proteases secondary to sustained dyslipidemia. It is suggested that heart and liver cysteine and aspartate proteases may represent potential therapeutic targets in the early stages of atherosclerosis.
Pathological aggregation and accumulation of α-synuclein in neurons play a core role in Parkinson’s disease (PD) while its overexpression is a common PD model. Autophagy-lysosomal pathways are general intraneural mechanisms of protein clearance. Earlier a suppressed autophagy in the brain of young transgenic mice overexpressing the А53Т-mutant human α-synuclein (mut(PD)) was revealed. Previous studies have recognized that Cystatin C displays protective activity against neurodegeneration. This cysteine protease inhibitor attracts particular attention as a potential target for PD treatment related to autophagy modulation. Here we evaluated the mRNA levels of Cst3 encoding Cystatin C in different brain structures of 5 m.o. mut(PD) mice at standard conditions and after the chronic treatment with a neuroprotective agent, ceftriaxone (100 mg/kg, 36 days). The inflammatory markers, namely, microglial activation by IBA1 expression and mRNA levels of two chitinases genes (Chit1, Chia1), were also assessed but no significant difference was found between control and transgenic mice. Cst3 mRNA levels were significantly reduced in the striatum and amygdala in the transgenic PD model. Furthermore, this was associated with autophagy decline and might be added to early signs of synucleinopathy development. We first demonstrated the modulation of mRNA levels of Cst3 and autophagy marker Becn1 in the brain by ceftriaxone treatment. Taken together, the results support the potential of autophagy modulation through Cystatin C at early stages of PD-like pathology.