Neurodegenerative diseases are associated with increased levels of nitric oxide (NO) mainly produced by microglial cells through inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) whose expression is induced by inflammatory stimuli. NOcan both exert cytotoxic functions and induce a metabolic switch by inhibiting oxidative phosphorylation and upregulating glycolytic flux. Here, we investigated whether two newly synthesized acetamidine based iNOS inhibitors, namely CM292 and CM544, could inhibit lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced BV2 microglial cell activation, focusing on both inflammatory and metabolic profiles. We found that CM292 and CM544, without affecting iNOS protein expression, reduced NO production and reverted LPS-induced inflammatory and cytotoxic response. Furthermore, in the presence of the inflammatory stimulus, both the inhibitors increased the expression of glycolytic enzymes. In particular, CM292 significantly reduced nuclear accumulation of pyruvate kinase M2, increased mitochondrial membrane potential and oxygen consumption rate, and augmented the expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase, pointing to a metabolic switch toward oxidative phosphorylation. These data confirm the role played by NO in the connection between cell bioenergetics profile and inflammation, and suggest the potential usefulness of iNOS inhibitors in redirecting microglia from detrimental to pro-regenerative phenotype.
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