Neuroprotective effect of liquiritin as an antioxidant via an increase in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase expression on B65 neuroblastoma cells

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Glycyrrhiza (the roots and rhizomes of licorice) has been used worldwide as both an herbal nutraceutical and herbal medicine. In addition, it is well known that Glycyrrhiza contains various compounds with biological effects, such as anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, anti-tumor and neuroprotective effects. Among the various compounds in Glycyrrhiza, the active compounds that show biological activity are thought to include glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhetinic acid, glabridin, licochalcones and liquiritin. In the present study, we investigated the biological effects of three of these compounds (glycyrrhizin, liquiritin and isoliquiritin) on B65 neuroblastoma cells derived from serotonergic neurons. Among these three compounds, only liquiritin enhanced the proliferation of B65 neuroblastoma cells. In contrast, both glycyrrhizin and isoliquiritin, particularly at high concentrations had cytotoxic effects. Cells were treated with various cytotoxic agents and liquiritin could ameliorate the cytotoxicity induced by menadione sodium bisulfate in a dose-dependent manner. We also examined the effect of liquiritin on cell survival by evaluating the expression levels of phospho-p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase, cyclin-related proteins and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, which produces nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate. Under treatment with liquiritin, the protein expression level of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase increased in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, the protein expression level of cyclin-related proteins did not change at all under treatment with liquiritin. These results suggest that liquiritin, which is contained in Glycyrrhiza, may enhance cell survival by increasing the protein expression level of glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase.

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