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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Jul;116(7):841-52. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0250-9. Epub 2009 Jun 16.

Metabolites of sesamin, a major lignan in sesame seeds, induce neuronal differentiation in PC12 cells through activation of ERK1/2 signaling pathway.

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Department of Longevity and Aging Research, Gifu International Institute of Biotechnology, 1-1 Naka-fudogaoka, Kakamigahara, Gifu 504-0838, Japan.


Sesamin, a major lignan in sesame seeds, exhibits various health benefits. Here, we investigated effects of sesamin, its stereoisomer episesamin, and their metabolites on neuronal differentiation in rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells. Among all compounds tested, primary metabolites of sesamin and episesamin, SC-1 and EC-1 {S- and R-epimer of 2-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)-6-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3,7-dioxabicyclo [3.3.0]octane}, were the most potent to induce neuronal differentiation. SC-1 alone induced neuronal differentiation through extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 activation that is essential for nerve growth factor (NGF)-induced neuronal differentiation, as shown by the suppression with MEK1/2 inhibitors, PD98059 and U0126. However, SC-1 did not increase phosphorylation of TrkA, a high-affinity NGF receptor, and a TrkA inhibitor, K252a, did not affect SC-1-induced neuronal differentiation. Furthermore, SC-1 potentiated neuronal differentiation in cells co-treated with NGF, which was associated with enhanced ERK1/2 activation and increased expression of neuronal differentiation markers. Interestingly, when treated with SC-1 and a high dose of NGF, formation of synaptic connections and synaptophysin accumulation at the neurite terminals were markedly enhanced. These results indicate that (1) SC-1 alone induces neuronal differentiation, (2) SC-1 potentiates neuronal differentiation in NGF-treated cells, (3) SC-1 enhances formation of synaptic connections in cells treated with a high dose of NGF, all of which are associated with ERK1/2 activation. It is therefore concluded that SC-1 may promote neuronal differentiation by tapping into the ERK1/2-MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) signaling pathway downstream from the TrkA receptor in PC12 cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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