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Neuroscience. 2007 Sep 21;148(4):915-24. Epub 2007 Aug 1.

Analysis of the action of euxanthone, a plant-derived compound that stimulates neurite outgrowth.

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1
Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK.

Abstract

We have investigated the neurite growth-stimulating properties of euxanthone, a xanthone derivative isolated from the Chinese medicinal plant Polygala caudata. Euxanthone was shown to exert a marked stimulatory action on neurite outgrowth from chick embryo dorsal root ganglia explanted in collagen gels, in the absence of added neurotrophins. It was also shown to promote cell survival in explanted chick embryo ganglia, and to stimulate neurite outgrowth from isolated adult rat primary sensory neurons in vitro. The further finding that euxanthone stimulates neurite outgrowth from explants of chick embryo retina and ventral spinal cord suggests an action on signaling pathways downstream of neuronal receptors for specific neurotrophic factors. Consistent with this, euxanthone did not promote neurite outgrowth from non-transfected PC12 cells, or from PC12 cells transfected with TrkB or TrkC, under conditions in which these cells extended neurites in response to, respectively, the neurotrophins nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin 3. Western blot analysis of euxanthone-stimulated dorsal root ganglion explants showed that expression of phospho-mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase was up-regulated after 1 h of euxanthone-treatment. Inhibition of the MAP kinase pathway using PD98059, a specific inhibitor of MAP kinase kinase, blocked all euxanthone-stimulated neurite outgrowth. However, analysis of phospho-Akt expression indicated that the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase-Akt pathway, another major signaling pathway engaged by neurotrophins, is not significantly activated by euxanthone. These results suggest that euxanthone promotes neurite outgrowth by selectively activating the MAP kinase pathway.

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