Mechanistic insights gained from cell and molecular analysis of the neuroprotective potential of bioactive natural compounds in an immortalized hippocampal cell line

Harris A. Weisz, Deborah R. Boone, William S. Coggins, Gabrielle A. Edwards, Hannah E. Willey, Steven G. Widen, Dionicio Siegel, Andrew T. Nelson, Donald S. Prough, Helen L. Hellmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evaluating novel compounds for neuroprotective effects in animal models of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a protracted, labor-intensive and costly effort. However, the present lack of effective treatment options for TBI, despite decades of research, shows the critical need for alternative methods for screening new drug candidates with neuroprotective properties. Because natural products have been a leading source of new therapeutic agents for human diseases, we used an in vitro model of stretch injury to rapidly assess pro-survival effects of three bioactive compounds, two isolated from natural products (clovanemagnolol [CM], vinaxanthone [VX]) and the third, a dietary compound (pterostilbene [PT]) found in blueberries. The stretch injury experiments were not used to validate drug efficacy in a comprehensive manner but used primarily, as proof-of-principle, to demonstrate that the neuroprotective potential of each bioactive agent can be quickly assessed in an immortalized hippocampal cell line in lieu of comprehensive testing in animal models of TBI. To gain mechanistic insights into potential molecular mechanisms of neuroprotective effects, we performed a pathway-specific PCR array analysis of the effects of CM on the rat hippocampus and microRNA sequencing analysis of the effects of VX and PT on cultured hippocampal progenitor neurons. We show that the neuroprotective properties of these natural compounds are associated with altered expression of several genes or microRNAs that have functional roles in neurodegeneration or cell survival. Our approach could help in quickly assessing multiple natural products for neuroprotective properties and expedite the process of new drug discovery for TBI therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0267682
JournalPloS one
Volume17
Issue number6 June
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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