Ethnopharmacological relevance: Ligusticum chuanxiong (LC) as a common component in many traditional Chinese medicinal formulas and decoctions has been used to treat different central nervous diseases, suggesting a neuroprotective function. Aim of the study: To investigate the functional roles of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) in mediating the neuroprotection of LC. Materials and methods: Different extractions of LC were applied with or without MAPK inhibitor to test their protection against serum deprivation-induced apoptosis in rat neuronal-like pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells as revealed by an MTT assay or Hoechst staining. Western blot was used to identify the activations of MAPKs. Results: The most effective butanol extraction (LC-BuOH) was used in the following experiments. LC-BuOH reversed serum deprivation-induced decreased phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and increased phosphorylation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38, the family of MAPKs. A PKA inhibitor, blocked the protection of LC-BuOH and partially blocked LC-BuOH-induced alterations in MAPKs, suggesting that the LC-BuOH regulates MAPKs through both PKA-dependent and -independent pathways. Although PD 98059, an inhibitor of MEK which activates ERK, blocked LC-BuOH-induced ERK phosphorylation, it did not block the protection of LC-BuOH. Conclusions: LC-BuOH mediates protection by suppressing JNK/p38 instead of activating ERK activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas