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Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2008;68(2):139-46.

Cell death and neuronal arborization upon quercetin treatment in rat neurons.

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Department of Comparative Anatomy and Anthropology, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland.


Quercetin, one of the major flavonoids, exhibits many beneficial effects on human organism as antihistamine, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antiviral drug. It is recommended as supplement of healthy diet but still the knowledge of its beneficial effect on normal cells is not satisfactory. We decided to examine the effect of flavonoid on neurons morphology and their susceptibility to cell death. Fractal analysis of rat neurons revealed that 24 hours long incubation with quercetin diminished neuronal arborisation in cortical neurons. Neurons also appeared to be very sensitive to cell death after flavonoid treatment in concentration dependent manner. Over 50% of cells died after incubation with 15 mu/ml of flavonoid while 1 mu/ ml of quercetin induced cell death only in 5%. Staining with Hoechst 33342 and propidium ioidide revealed the two types of cell death: apoptosis and necrosis. The number of apoptotic cells was comparable with necrotic ones. These results suggest toxic effect of quercetin on neurons what should be taken into consideration in further studies on using quercetin as therapeutic agent.

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