Parkinson’s disease (PD), a common adult-onset neurodegenerative disorder with complex pathological mechanisms, is characterized by the degeneration of dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons. The present study demonstrated that the herbal medicines Hepad 1 and 2 protected against 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced dopaminergic neurotoxicity in C57BL/6 mice and SH-SY5Y cells. Hepad 1 and 2 remarkably alleviated the enhanced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, inducible nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase-2, macrophage-1, and phosphorylated iκB-α) and apoptotic signals (Bcl-2-associated X protein, caspase-3, and poly [ADP-ribose] polymerase-1). Additionally, Hepad reduced MPTP-induced oxidative damage by increasing the expression of anti-oxidant defense enzymes (superoxide dismutase and glutathione S-transferase) and downregulating the levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase 4. This study also showed that the neuroprotective effects of Hepad include anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and anti-oxidative properties, in addition to activation of the protein kinase B, extracellular-signal-regulated kinase, and c-Jun N-terminal kinase signaling pathways. Furthermore, oral administration of Hepad 1 and 2 attenuated the death of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive substantia nigra neurons that was induced by 20 mg/kg MPTP. Therefore, our results suggest that Hepad 1 and 2 are useful for treating PD and other disorders associated with neuro-inflammatory, neuro-apoptotic, and neuro-oxidative damage.
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