Matrine (MAT), a quinolizidine alkaloid derived from the herb Radix Sophorae flavescens, has been recently found to be beneficial in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis, mainly through its anti-inflammatory effect. In the present study, we tested the effect of MAT on ongoing EAE and defined possible mechanisms underlying its effects on myelination and oligodendrocytes.Main methods:
EAE was induced in C57BL/6 mice and MAT treatment was started at disease onset. Clinical scores were monitored daily; spinal cords and the corpus callosum brain region of mice were harvested on day 23 p.i. for inflammatory infiltration and demyelination of the central nervous system. Myelin content and the development of oligodendrocytes and their precursors were determined by immunostaining, and expression of p-Akt, p-mTOR, p-PI3K, and p-P70S6 was determined by Western blot.Key findings:
MAT effectively suppressed EAE severity and increased the expression of proteolipid protein, a myelin protein that is a marker of CNS myelin. MAT treatment largely increased the number of mature oligodendrocytes, and significantly activated the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway, which is required for oligodendrocyte survival and axon myelination.Significance:
These findings demonstrate a beneficial effect of MAT on oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination during EAE, most likely through activating the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway.