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Journal of neuroscience research

Effects of the flavonoid casticin from Brazilian Croton betulaster in cerebral cortical progenitors in vitro: direct and indirect action through astrocytes.


PMID 19746423

Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases are a major constraint on the social and economic development of many countries. Evidence has suggested that phytochemicals have an impact on brain pathology; however, both their mechanisms of action and their cell targets are incompletely known. Here, we investigated the effects of the flavonoid casticin, extracted from Croton betulaster, a common plant in the state of Bahia in Brazil, on rat cerebral cortex neurons in vitro. Treatment of neural progenitors with 10 microM casticin increased the neuronal population positive for the neuronal marker beta-tubulin III and the neuronal transcriptional factor Tbr2 by approximately 20%. This event was followed by a 50% decrease in neuronal death. Pools of astrocyte (GFAP and S100beta), neural (nestin), and oligodendrocyte (Olig2 and NG2) progenitors were not affected by casticin. Neither neuronal commitment nor proliferation of progenitors was affected by casticin, suggesting a neuroprotective effect of this compound. Culture of neural progenitors on casticin-treated astrocyte monolayers increased the neuronal population by 40%. This effect was reproduced by conditioned medium derived from casticin-treated astrocytes, suggesting the involvement of a soluble factor. ELISA assays of the conditioned medium revealed a 20% increase in interleukin-6 level in response to casticin. In contrast to the direct effect, neuronal death was unaffected, but a 52% decrease in the death of nestin-positive progenitors was observed. Together our data suggest that casticin influences the neuronal population by two mechanisms: 1) directly, by decreasing neuronal death, and 2) indirectly, via astrocytes, by modulating the pool of neuronal progenitors.

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