Background: Agmatine, an endogenous amine, is cosidered a novel neuromodulator with
neuroprotective properties. However, the mechanisms involved in these protective effects are poorly
Methods: Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy analysis detects biomolecular changes in
disordered cells and tissues. In the present study, we employ FTIR spectroscopy to characterize the
changes in rotenone-induced damage in neuronal-like differentiated SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells in
the presence or absence of agmatine.
Results: The analysis of the FTIR spectra evidences significant alterations in rotenone-treated cells that
are reduced by the pre-incubation with agmatine (250 nM). In particular, rotenone-damaged cells demonstrate
spectral alterations related to amide I, which correspond to an increase in β-sheet components,
and decreases in the amide II absorption intensity, suggesting a loss of N-H bending and C-N stretching.
These alterations were also evident by Fourier self-deconvolution analysis. Thus, rotenone induced
increases in the levels of stretching vibration band related to the protein carboxyl group would account
for a significant amount of misfolded proteins in the cell. Agmatine effectively reduces these effects of
rotenone on protein structure.
Conclusion: In conclusion, antioxidant and scavenging properties of agmatine reduce rotenoneproduced
cellular damage at the level of protein structure. Our results, together with other previous observations,
make agmatine a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.