The neuroprotective effect of baicalein is generally attributed to inhibition of 12/15-lipoxygenase (12/15-LOX) and suppression of oxidative stress, but recent studies showed that baicalein also activates hypoxia-inducible factor-α (HIF1α) through inhibition of prolyl hydrolase 2 (PHD2) and activation of the phosphatidylinositide-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway. Yet, the significance and regulation of prosurvival cytokines erythropoietin (Epo) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), two transcriptional targets of HIF1α, in baicalein-mediated neuroprotection in neurons and astrocytes remains unknown. Here we investigated the causal relationship between the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and Epo/VEGF expression in baicalein-mediated neuroprotection in primary rat cortical neurons and astrocytes. Our results show that baicalein induced Epo and VEGF expression in a HIF1α- and PI3K/Akt-dependent manner in neurons. Baicalein also protected neurons against excitotoxicity in a PI3K- and Epo/VEGF-dependent manner without affecting neuronal excitability. In contrast, at least a 10-fold higher concentration of baicalein was needed to induce Epo/VEGF production and PI3K/Akt activity in astrocytes for protection of neurons. Moreover, only baicalein-induced astrocytic VEGF, but not Epo expression requires HIF1α, while PI3K/Akt signaling had little role in baicalein-induced astrocytic Epo/VEGF expression. These results suggest distinct mechanisms of baicalein-mediated Epo/VEGF production in neurons and astrocytes for neuroprotection, and provide new insights into the mechanisms and potential of baicalein in treating brain injury in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
Sun, Y. Y., Lin, S. H., Lin, H. C., Hung, C. C., Wang, C. Y., Lin, Y. C., Hung, K. S., Lien, C. C., Kuan, C. Y., & Lee, Y-H. (2013). Cell Type-Specific Dependency on the PI3K/Akt Signaling Pathway for the Endogenous Epo and VEGF Induction by Baicalein in Neurons versus Astrocytes. PLoS One, 8(7), [e69019]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069019