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Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(4):449-54.

Astragalus extract alleviates nerve injury after cerebral ischemia by improving energy metabolism and inhibiting apoptosis.

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Pathophysiology Laboratory, Hunan University of Chinese Medicine, Changsha, Hunan Province, P.R. China.


This aim of this study was to explore the effects and molecular mechanisms of Astragalus extract against cerebral ischemia injury through the energy metabolism and apoptosis pathways of c‑Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signal transduction. After the bilateral common carotid artery of C57BL/6 mice was occluded for 20 min followed by 1-h reperfusion, the ATP content, total adenine nucleotides (TAN), energy charge (EC), and sodium potassium ATPase (Na(+)-K(+)‑ATPase) activity were decreased markedly in brain tissues. Astragalus extract markedly increased the ATP and ADP levels, EC value, and Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase activity. Twenty-four and 48 h after reperfusion, the neurocyte survival rate decreased and apoptosis rate increased, while the expression of phosphorylated JNK1/2, cytochrome c (Cyt C), and cysteine aspartic acid-specific protease (caspase)-9 and -3 were significantly enhanced in brain tissues. Astragalus extract significantly increased neurocyte survival and decreased the apoptosis rate as well as down-regulated the expression of p-JNK1/2, Cyt C, caspase-9, and caspase-3. These results suggest that Astragalus extract has neuroprotective effects against nerve injury after cerebral ischemia-reperfusion, and the underlying mechanism may be associated with improved cellular energy metabolism, inhibition of JNK signal transduction pathway activation, and then suppression of the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway.

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