Planta Med 2011; 77(15): 1695-1701
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1271033
Biological and Pharmacological Activity
Original Papers
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Paeonol Prevents Excitotoxicity in Rat Pheochromocytoma PC12 Cells via Downregulation of ERK Activation and Inhibition of Apoptosis

Xuncui Wang1 [*] , Guoqi Zhu1 [*] , Shu Yang1 , Xiu Wang1 , Hui Cheng1 , Fei Wang1 , Xiaoxiang Li2 , Qinglin Li1
  • 1Key Laboratory of Xin'an Medicine, Ministry of Education, Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hefei, China
  • 2Anhui Newstar Pharmaceutical Development Co., Ltd., Hefei, China
Further Information

Publication History

received March 9, 2011 revised March 27, 2011

accepted March 29, 2011

Publication Date:
20 April 2011 (eFirst)


Paeonol, an active component of Moutan Cortex, has been recognized as a potential neuroprotective drug. In the present study, an injury model based on glutamate-induced cell death of rat pheochromocytoma cells was used to investigate the neuroprotective potential of paeonol and its mechanism of action. Our findings showed that paeonol dose-dependently prevented glutamate-induced cell death as evidenced by cell viability, lactate dehydrogenase release, and trypan blue exclusion. In addition, flow cytometry of propidium iodide-stained cells revealed that paeonol pretreatment reduced the level of glutamate-induced apoptosis in pheochromocytoma cells. Paeonol was also able to decrease the glutamate-induced injury of mitochondria by normalization of mitochondrial membrane potential and cytochrome c release. The glutamate-induced activity of caspase-3 and p-ERK were dose-dependently reduced by paeonol pretreatments. Taken together, our data suggest that paeonol develops its neuroprotective effect against glutamate neurotoxicity through inhibition of the apoptotic signaling pathway and upregulation of the p-ERK pathway.


1 These authors contributed equally to this work.

Prof. Dr. Qinglin Li

Anhui Province Key Laboratory of R & D of Chinese Medicine
Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine

103 Meishan Road

Hefei, 230038


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