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Neuroscience. 2010 Jan 20;165(2):515-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.10.023.

Ferulic acid induces neural progenitor cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo.

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  • 1Kitasato Institute for Life Sciences, Kitasato University, Tokyo, Japan.


Ferulic acid (4-hydroxy-3-methoxycinnamic acid; FA) is a plant constituent and is contained in several medicinal plants for clinical use. In this paper, we investigated the effects of FA on the proliferation of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSC/NPCs) in vitro and in vivo. FA significantly increased the proliferation of NSC/NPCs cultured from the telencephalon of embryonic day-14 rats, and increased the number and size of secondary formed neurospheres. An in vitro differentiation assay showed that FA did not affect the percentage of either neuron-specific class III beta-tubulin (Tuj-1)-positive cells or glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive cells in the total cell population. Oral administration of FA increased the number of newly generated cells in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus of corticosterone (CORT)-treated mice, indicating that FA enhances the proliferation of adult NSC/NPCs in vivo. We also found that oral administration of FA increased cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA level in the hippocampus of CORT-treated mice, and ameliorated the stress-induced depression-like behavior of mice. These novel pharmacological effects of FA may be useful for the treatment of mood disorders such as depression.

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