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Pharm Biol. 2020 Dec;58(1):35-43. doi: 10.1080/13880209.2019.1697298.

The seed of Litchi chinensis fraction ameliorates hippocampal neuronal injury in an Aβ25-35-induced Alzheimer's disease rat model via the AKT/GSK-3β pathway.

Sun Y1, Wu A1,2, Li X1,3, Qin D1,2, Jin B4, Liu J1,2, Tang Y1,2, Wu J1,2, Yu C2.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, China.
Institute of Cardiovascular Research, The Key Laboratory of Medical Electrophysiology, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, China.
Department of Anatomy and Histology and Embryology, Chengdu Medical College, Chengdu, China.
Department of Human Anatomy, Chengdu Medical Collage, Chengdu, China.


Context: The seed of Litchi chinensis Sonn., a famous traditional Chinese medicine, was recently reported to enhance cognitive function by inhibiting neuronal apoptosis in rats.Objective: We determined whether the seed of Litchi chinensis fraction (SLF) can ameliorate hippocampal neuronal injury via the AKT/GSK-3β pathway.Materials and methods: We established Alzheimer's disease (AD) model by infusing Aβ25-35 into the lateral ventricle of Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats and randomly divided into five groups (n = 10): sham, donepezil and SLF (120, 240 and 480 mg/kg/d). Rats were treated by intragastric administration for 28 consecutive days. Spatial learning and memory were evaluated with Morris water maze, while protein expression of AKT, GSK-3β and tau in the hippocampal neurons was measured by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry.Results: On the fifth day, escape latency of the AD model group was 45.78 ± 2.52 s and that of the sham operative group was 15.98 ± 2.32 s. SLF could improve cognitive functions by increasing the number of rats that crossed the platform (p < 0.01), and their platform quadrant dwell time (p < 0.05). The protein expression level of AKT was upregulated (p < 0.001), while that of GSK-3β and tau (p < 0.01) was remarkably downregulated in the hippocampal CA1 area.Discussion and conclusions: To our knowledge, the present study is the first to show that SLF may exert neuroprotective effect in AD rats via the AKT/GSK-3β signalling pathway, thereby serving as evidence for the potential utility of SLF as an effective drug against AD.


AD; AKT; GSK-3β; Litchi chinensis seed fraction; beta-amyloid; botanical drug; cognitive function; neuroprotection; tau

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