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Eur J Pharmacol. 2007 Jun 14;564(1-3):66-74. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

Neuroprotective effects of echinacoside in the mouse MPTP model of Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, School of Pharmaceutical Science, Peking University, 38 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, 100083 Beijing, PR China.


In the present study, we investigated the neuroprotective effects of echinacoside, a phenylethanoid glycoside extracted from the medicinal Chinese herb Cistanches salsa, against 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced dopaminergic toxicity. We confirmed that exposure to MPTP in mice leads to permanent behavioral deficits and depletion of dopamine and its metabolites. When administered prior to MPTP, echinacoside reduced behavioral deficits, increased striatal dopamine and dopamine metabolite levels, reduced cell death, and led to a marked increase in tyrosine hydroxylase expression relative to mice treated with MPTP alone. In addition, pre-treatment with echinacoside significantly reduced caspase-3 and caspase-8 activation in 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP(+))-induced apoptosis in cerebellar granule neurons. Taken together, these findings suggest that echinacoside improves the behavioral and neurochemical outcomes in MPTP mice model of Parkinson's disease and inhibits caspase-3 and caspase-8 activation in cerebellar granule neurons, making the compound an attractive candidate treatment for various neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson's disease.

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