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Molecules 2016, 21(11), 1557; doi:10.3390/molecules21111557

The Protective Effects of Icariin against the Homocysteine-Induced Neurotoxicity in the Primary Embryonic Cultures of Rat Cortical Neurons

1
State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Macau Institute for Applied Research in Medicine and Health, Macau University of Science and Technology, Av. Wai Long, Taipa, Macau, China
2
School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
3
Department of Genetics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 07001, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Thomas J. Schmidt
Received: 22 July 2016 / Revised: 26 October 2016 / Accepted: 9 November 2016 / Published: 22 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Natural Products)
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Abstract

Icariin, an ingredient in the medicinal herb Epimedium brevicornum Maxim (EbM), has been considered as a potential therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Hyperhomocysteinaemia is a risk factor for AD and other associated neurological diseases. In this study we aim to investigate whether icariin can reverse homocysteine (Hcy)-induced neurotoxicity in primary embryonic cultures of rat cortical neurons. Our findings demonstrated that icariin might be able restore the cytoskeleton network damaged by Hcy through the modulation of acetyl-α-tubulin, tyrosinated-α-tubulin, and phosphorylation of the tubulin-binding protein Tau. In addition, icariin downregulated p-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) which is a kinase targeting tau protein. Furthermore, icariin effectively restored the neuroprotective protein p-Akt that was downregulated by Hcy. We also applied RT2 Profiler PCR Arrays focused on genes related to AD and neurotoxicity to examine genes differentially altered by Hcy or icariin. Among the altered genes from the arrays, ADAM9 was downregulated 15 folds in cells treated with Hcy, but markedly restored by icariin. ADAM family, encoded α-secreatase, plays a protective role in AD. Overall, our findings demonstrated that icariin exhibits a strong neuroprotective function and have potential for future development for drug treating neurological disorders, such as AD. View Full-Text
Keywords: homocysteine; neuroprotection; icariin; RT2 Profiler PCR array homocysteine; neuroprotection; icariin; RT2 Profiler PCR array
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Li, X.-A.; HO, Y.-S.; Chen, L.; Hsiao, W.W. The Protective Effects of Icariin against the Homocysteine-Induced Neurotoxicity in the Primary Embryonic Cultures of Rat Cortical Neurons. Molecules 2016, 21, 1557.

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