Botanical Drug Puerarin Coordinates with Nerve Growth Factor in the Regulation of Neuronal Survival and Neuritogenesis via Activating ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt Signaling Pathways in the Neurite Extension Process

Jia Zhao, Yuan Yuan Cheng, Wen Fan, Chuan Bin Yang, Shui Fen Ye, Wei Cui, Wei Wei, Li Xing Lao, Jing Cai, Yifan Han, Jian Hui Rong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Nerve growth factor (NGF) regulates neuronal survival and differentiation by activating extracellular signal-regulated-kinases (ERK) 1/2 and phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathways in two distinct processes: latency process and neurite extension process. This study was designed to investigate whether botanical drug C-glucosylated isoflavone puerarin coordinates with NGF to regulate neuritogenesis via activating ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt in neurite extension process. Methods: We investigated the neuroprotective and neurotrophic activities of puerarin in MPTP-lesioned mice and dopaminergic PC12 cells. The effects of puerarin on ERK1/2, Akt, Nrf2, and HO-1 were assessed by Western blotting. The neurite outgrowth was assayed by neurite outgrowth staining kit. Results: Puerarin protected dopaminergic cells and ameliorated the behavioral impairments in MPTP-lesioned mice. Puerarin potentiated the effect of NGF on neuritogenesis in PC12 cells by >10-fold. Mechanistic studies revealed: (1) puerarin rapidly activated ERK1/2 and Akt, leading to the activation of Nrf2/heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) pathways; (2) ERK1/2, PI3K/Akt, and HO-1 inhibitors attenuated the neuritogenic activity of puerarin. Notably, puerarin enhanced NGF-induced neuritogenesis in a timing-dependent manner. Conclusion: Puerarin effectively coordinated with NGF to stimulate neuritogenesis via activating ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt pathways in neurite extension process. These results demonstrated a general mechanism supporting the therapeutic application of puerarin-related compounds in neurodegenerative diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalCNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • ERK1/2
  • Neuritogenesis
  • Nrf2/heme oxygenase-1
  • PI3K/Akt
  • Puerarin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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