Baicalein exerts anti-neuroinflammatory effects to protect against rotenone-induced brain injury in rats

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Baicalein, a major bioactive flavone constituent isolated from Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi, has been shown to be neuroprotective in several Parkinson's disease (PD) animal models. Since neuroinflammation has been known to play a critical role in the pathogenesis of PD, potential explanation for the neuroprotective action of anti-PD compounds involves among others reduced inflammation. Our study investigated that one of the mechanisms of protection afforded by baicalein in rotenone-induced parkinsonian rats was associated with anti-inflammatory action and explored its underlying mechanism in vivo and in vitro. The results showed that baicalein treatment improved motor impairments, attenuated brain damage, suppressed the production of proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and interleukin 6 (IL-6)), modulated the astrocytes and microglia activation, and blocked the activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signals in rotenone-induced rats of PD. Furthermore, treatment of baicalein prominently suppressed the generation of nitric oxide (NO) and the expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) protein by blocking LPS-induced IκBα phosphorylation and NF-κB translocation, and downregulated the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) which functions in the upstream of NF-κB signal in the activated BV2 microglia. In conclusion, our studies suggest that baicalein may be effective in the treatment of PD through anti-neuroinflammation.

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