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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2016;39(3):1152-64. doi: 10.1159/000447822. Epub 2016 Aug 31.

The Neuroprotective Effect of Puerarin in Acute Spinal Cord Injury Rats.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Fourth Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, People's Republic of China.



Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to permanent disabilities. This study evaluated the neuroprotective effect of puerarin, a natural extract, in a rat model of SCI.


Acute SCI models were established in rats using a modified Allen's method. Locomotor function was evaluated using the BBB test. The histological changes in the spinal cord were observed by H&E staining. Neuron survival and glial cells activation were evaluated by immunostaining. ELISA and realtime PCR were used to measure secretion and gene expression of cytokines. TUNEL staining was used to examine cell apoptosis and western blot analysis was used to detect protein expression.


Puerarin significantly increased BBB score in SCI rats, attenuated histological injury of spinal cord, decreased neuron loss, inhibited glial cells activation, alleviated inflammation, and inhibited cell apoptosis in the injured spinal cords. In addition, the downregulated PI3K and phospho-Akt protein expression were restored by puerarin.


Puerarin accelerated locomotor function recovery and tissue repair of SCI rats, which is associated with its neuroprotection, glial cell activation suppression, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptosis effects. These effects may be associated with the activation of PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.

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