Potential roles of PI3K/Akt and Nrf2-Keap1 pathways in regulating hormesis of Z-ligustilide in PC12 cells against oxygen and glucose deprivation

Hongyi Qi, Yifan Han, Jianhui Rong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Many phytochemicals may ameliorate neurological disorders through a hormetic mechanism. The aim of this study was to characterize the hormetic role of Z-ligustilide in PC12 cells against oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD) induced cell death. We examined the interactions of Z-ligustilide with the pro-survival signals mediated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and transcription factor nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathways. We also investigated the effect of Z-ligustilide on the intracellular redox signaling system involving reactive oxygen species (ROS) and glutathione (GSH). Z-ligustilide not only triggered stress response by causing ROS formation and transient GSH depletion, but also activated survival-promoting signals via cross-talking of PI3K and Nrf2 pathways. A key finding was that Z-ligustilide preconditioning protected PC12 cells from OGD-induced injury either at a low concentration for a prolonged period of time or at a high concentration for a short period of time. Presumably, mild preconditioning stimulated moderate ROS production, but effectively activated hormetic signals and induced stress responsive genes. In contrast, higher concentrations of Z-ligustilide could be toxic over a prolonged period of time due to massive ROS production. These results suggest that the effect of Z-ligustilide may be regulated by a biphasic hormetic mechanism involving initial induction of oxidative stress and subsequent activation of stress response gene expression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1659-1670
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • Heme oxygenase-1
  • Hormetic effect
  • Nrf2 pathway
  • Oxygen glucose deprivation
  • PI3K
  • Z-ligustilide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology

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