Repurposing of Nitroxoline Drug for the Prevention of Neurodegeneration

Chem Res Toxicol. 2019 Nov 18;32(11):2182-2191. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.9b00183. Epub 2019 Oct 22.


Oxidative stress has been documented as one of the significant causes of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, antioxidant therapy for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases seems to be an interesting strategy in drug discovery. The quinoline-based compound, namely 5-nitro-8-quinolinol (NQ), has shown excellent antimicrobial, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activities. However, its neuroprotective effects and precise molecular mechanisms in human neuronal cells have not been elucidated. In this work, the effects of NQ on cell viability and morphology were evaluated by the MTT assay and microscopic observation. Moreover, the underlying mechanisms of this compound, inducing the survival rate of neuronal cells under oxidative stress, were investigated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) assay, flow cytometry, Western blotting, and immunofluorescence techniques. In addition, the molecular interaction of sirtuin1 (SIRT1) with NQ was constructed using the AutoDock 4.2 program. Interestingly, NQ protected SH-SY5Y cells against H2O2-induced neurotoxicity through scavenging ROS, upregulating the levels of SIRT1 and FOXO3a, increasing the levels of antioxidant enzymes (catalase and superoxide dismutase), promoting antiapoptotic BCL-2 protein expression, and reducing apoptosis. Besides, molecular docking also revealed that NQ interacted satisfactorily with the active site of SIRT1 similar to the resveratrol, which is the SIRT1 activator and strong antioxidant. These findings suggest that NQ prevents oxidative-stress-induced neurodegeneration because of its antioxidant capacity as well as antiapoptotic property through SIRT1-FOXO3a signaling pathway. Thus, NQ might be a drug that could be repurposed for prevention of neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Repositioning*
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / toxicity
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Nitroquinolines / pharmacology*
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sirtuin 1 / metabolism


  • FOXO3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Nitroquinolines
  • Protective Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • nitroxoline
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • SIRT1 protein, human
  • Sirtuin 1