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1.  Berberine Protects against Neuronal Damage via Suppression of Glia-Mediated Inflammation in Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115694.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) triggers a series of neuroinflammatory processes that contribute to evolution of neuronal injury. The present study investigated the neuroprotective effects and anti-inflammatory actions of berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, in both in vitro and in vivo TBI models. Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury were injected with berberine (10 mg·kg−1) or vehicle 10 min after injury. In addition to behavioral studies and histology analysis, blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and brain water content were determined. Expression of PI3K/Akt and Erk signaling and inflammatory mediators were also analyzed. The protective effect of berberine was also investigated in cultured neurons either subjected to stretch injury or exposed to conditioned media with activated microglia. Berberine significantly attenuated functional deficits and brain damage associated with TBI up to day 28 post-injury. Berberine also reduced neuronal death, apoptosis, BBB permeability, and brain edema at day 1 post-injury. These changes coincided with a marked reduction in leukocyte infiltration, microglial activation, matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity, and expression of inflammatory mediators. Berberine had no effect on Akt or Erk 1/2 phosphorylation. In mixed glial cultures, berberine reduced TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB signaling. Berberine also attenuated neuronal death induced by microglial conditioned media; however, it did not directly protect cultured neurons subjected to stretch injury. Moreover, administration of berberine at 3 h post-injury also reduced TBI-induced neuronal damage, apoptosis and inflammation in vivo. Berberine reduces TBI-induced brain damage by limiting the production of inflammatory mediators by glial cells, rather than by a direct neuroprotective effect.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115694
PMCID: PMC4278716  PMID: 25546475
2.  Post-Injury Treatment with 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone, a TrkB Receptor Agonist, Protects against Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury via PI3K/Akt Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113397.
Tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) signaling is critical for promoting neuronal survival following brain damage. The present study investigated the effects and underlying mechanisms of TrkB activation by the TrkB agonist 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF) on traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact received intraperitoneal 7,8-DHF or vehicle injection 10 min post-injury and subsequently daily for 3 days. Behavioral studies, histology analysis and brain water content assessment were performed. Levels of TrkB signaling-related molecules and apoptosis-related proteins were analyzed. The protective effect of 7,8-DHF was also investigated in primary neurons subjected to stretch injury. Treatment with 20 mg/kg 7,8-DHF attenuated functional deficits and brain damage up to post-injury day 28. 7,8-DHF also reduced brain edema, neuronal death, and apoptosis at day 4. These changes were accompanied by a significant decrease in cleaved caspase-3 and increase in Bcl-2/Bax ratio. 7,8-DHF enhanced phosphorylation of TrkB, Akt (Ser473/Thr308), and Bad at day 4, but had no effect on Erk 1/2 phosphorylation. Moreover, 7,8-DHF increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels and promoted cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) activation. This beneficial effect was attenuated by inhibition of TrkB or PI3K/Akt. 7,8-DHF also promoted survival and reduced apoptosis in cortical neurons subjected to stretch injury. Remarkably, delayed administration of 7,8-DHF at 3 h post-injury reduced brain tissue damage. Our study demonstrates that activation of TrkB signaling by 7,8-DHF protects against TBI via the PI3K/Akt but not Erk pathway, and this protective effect may be amplified via the PI3K/Akt-CREB cascades.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113397
PMCID: PMC4240709  PMID: 25415296
3.  Salidroside Improves Behavioral and Histological Outcomes and Reduces Apoptosis via PI3K/Akt Signaling after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45763.
Background
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces a complex sequence of apopototic cascades that contribute to secondary tissue damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of salidroside, a phenolic glycoside with potent anti-apoptotic properties, on behavioral and histological outcomes, brain edema, and apoptosis following experimental TBI and the possible involvement of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury received intraperitoneal salidroside (20, or 50 mg/kg) or vehicle injection 10 min after injury. Behavioral studies, histology analysis and brain water content assessment were performed. Levels of PI3K/Akt signaling-related molecules, apoptosis-related proteins, cytochrome C (CytoC), and Smac/DIABLO were also analyzed. LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, was administered to examine the mechanism of protection. The protective effect of salidroside was also investigated in primary cultured neurons subjected to stretch injury. Treatment with 20 mg/kg salidroside_significantly improved functional recovery and reduced brain tissue damage up to post-injury day 28. Salidroside_also significantly reduced neuronal death, apoptosis, and brain edema at day 1. These changes were associated with significant decreases in cleaved caspase-3, CytoC, and Smac/DIABLO at days 1 and 3. Salidroside increased phosphorylation of Akt on Ser473 and the mitochondrial Bcl-2/Bax ratio at day 1, and enhanced phosphorylation of Akt on Thr308 at day 3. This beneficial effect was abolished by pre-injection of LY294002. Moreover, delayed administration of salidroside at 3 or 6 h post-injury reduced neuronal damage at day 1. Salidroside treatment also decreased neuronal vulnerability to stretch-induced injury in vitro.
Conclusions/Significance
Post-injury salidroside improved long-term behavioral and histological outcomes and reduced brain edema and apoptosis following TBI, at least partially via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045763
PMCID: PMC3454376  PMID: 23029230

Results 1-3 (3)