Autonomous CaMKII Activity as a Drug Target for Histological and Functional Neuroprotection after Resuscitation from Cardiac Arrest

Cell Rep. 2017 Jan 31;18(5):1109-1117. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.01.011.


The Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is a major mediator of physiological glutamate signaling, but its role in pathological glutamate signaling (excitotoxicity) remains less clear, with indications for both neuro-toxic and neuro-protective functions. Here, the role of CaMKII in ischemic injury is assessed utilizing our mouse model of cardiac arrest and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CA/CPR). CaMKII inhibition (with tatCN21 or tatCN19o) at clinically relevant time points (30 min after resuscitation) greatly reduces neuronal injury. Importantly, CaMKII inhibition also works in combination with mild hypothermia, the current standard of care. The relevant drug target is specifically Ca2+-independent "autonomous" CaMKII activity generated by T286 autophosphorylation, as indicated by substantial reduction in injury in autonomy-incompetent T286A mutant mice. In addition to reducing cell death, tatCN19o also protects the surviving neurons from functional plasticity impairments and prevents behavioral learning deficits, even at extremely low doses (0.01 mg/kg), further highlighting the clinical potential of our findings.

Keywords: CaMKII; LTP; cardiac arrest; ischemia; neuroprotection; tatCN19o.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Heart Arrest / metabolism*
  • Heart Arrest / physiopathology*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neuroprotection / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation / physiology


  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Calcium