Molecular and Cellular Mechanism of Okadaic Acid (OKA)-Induced Neurotoxicity: A Novel Tool for Alzheimer’s Disease Therapeutic Application

Pradip K. Kamat, Shivika Rai, Supriya Swarnkar, Rakesh Shukla, Chandishwar Nath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Okadaic acid (OKA), a polyether C38 fatty acid toxin extracted from a black sponge Hallichondria okadaii, is a potent and selective inhibitor of protein phosphatase, PP1 and PP2A. OKA has been proved to be a powerful probe for studying the various regulatory mechanisms and neurotoxicity. Because of its property to inhibit phosphatase activity, OKA is associated with protein phosphorylation; it is implicated in hyperphosphorylation of tau and in later stages causes Alzhiemer’s disease (AD)-like pathology. AD is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, pathologically characterized by extracellular amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). The density of tau tangles in AD pathology is associated with cognitive dysfunction. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of serine/threonine protein phosphatases in many processes including apoptosis and neurotoxicity. Although OKA causes neurotoxicity by various pathways, the exact mechanism is still not clear. The activation of major kinases, such as Ser/Thr, MAPK, ERK, PKA, JNK, PKC, CaMKII, Calpain, and GSK3β, in neurons is associated with AD pathology. These kinases, associated with abnormal hyperphosphorylation of tau, suggest that the cascade of these kinases could exclusively be involved in the pathogenesis of AD. The activity of serine/threonine protein phosphatases needs extensive study as these enzymes are potential targets for novel therapeutics with applications in many diseases including cancer, inflammatory diseases, and neurodegeneration. There is a need to pay ample attention on MAPK kinase pathways in AD, and OKA can be a better tool to study cellular and molecular mechanism for AD pathology. This review elucidates the regulatory mechanism of PP2A and MAPK kinase and their possible mechanisms involved in OKA-induced apoptosis, neurotoxicity, and AD-like pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-865
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Kinases
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Okadaic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)


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