Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Leflunomide Treatment Does Not Protect Neural Cells Following Oxygen-Glucose Deprivation (OGD) In Vitro

Curel, Claire J M; Nobeli, Irene; Thornton, Claire


Claire J M Curel

Irene Nobeli

Claire Thornton


Neonatal hypoxia-ischemia (HI) affects 2-3 per 1000 live births in developed countries and up to 26 per 1000 live births in developing countries. It is estimated that of the 750,000 infants experiencing a hypoxic-ischemic event during birth per year, more than 400,000 will be severely affected. As treatment options are limited, rapidly identifying new therapeutic avenues is critical, and repurposing drugs already in clinical use offers a fast-track route to clinic. One emerging avenue for therapeutic intervention in neonatal HI is to target mitochondrial dysfunction, which occurs early in the development of brain injury. Mitochondrial dynamics are particularly affected, with mitochon-drial fragmentation occurring at the expense of the profusion protein Optic Atrophy (OPA)1. OPA1, together with mitofusins (MFN)1/2, are required for membrane fusion, and therefore, protecting their function may also safeguard mitochondrial dynamics. Leflunomide, an FDA-approved immunosup-pressant, was recently identified as an activator of MFN2 with partial effects on OPA1 expression. We, therefore, treated C17.2 cells with Leflunomide before or after oxygen-glucose deprivation, an in vitro mimic of HI, to determine its efficacy as a neuroprotection and inhibitor of mitochondrial dysfunction. Leflunomide increased baseline OPA1 but not MFN2 expression in C17.2 cells. However, Leflunomide was unable to promote cell survival following OGD. Equally, there was no obvious effect on mitochondrial morphology or bioenergetics. These data align with studies suggesting that the tissue and mitochondrial protein profile of the target cell/tissue are critical for taking advantage of the therapeutic actions of Leflunomide.


Curel, C. J. M., Nobeli, I., & Thornton, C. (2024). Leflunomide Treatment Does Not Protect Neural Cells Following Oxygen-Glucose Deprivation (OGD) In Vitro. Cells, 13(7), 631.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 29, 2024
Online Publication Date Apr 4, 2024
Publication Date Apr 4, 2024
Deposit Date Apr 7, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 8, 2024
Journal Cells
Print ISSN 2073-4409
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 7
Pages 631
Keywords General Medicine


You might also like

Downloadable Citations