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Cancer Cell death Cell cycle Cytoskeleton Exo/endocytosis Differentiation Division Organelles Signalling Stem cells Trafficking
Cell Biology International (2008) 32, 86–92 (Printed in Great Britain)
Bak Foong protects dopaminergic neurons against MPTP-induced neurotoxicity by its anti-apoptotic activity
Bin Liuab, Jun Xia Xieb, Lai Ling Tsanga, Dewi Kenneth Rowlandsa, Lok Sze Hoa, Yu Lin Goua, Yiu Wa Chunga and Hsiao Chang Chana*
aEpithelial Cell Biology Research Centre, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong
bDepartment of Physiology, Medical College, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266021, PR China


Bak Foong pill (BFP) is a well-known traditional Chinese medicine used for treatment of various gynaecological disorders. In addition, it exerts beneficial effects on other functional systems including the central nervous system. In the present study, we have investigated the possible neuroprotective action of BFP upon the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system by examining its effect on the expression patterns of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine transporter (DAT) in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahyrdropyridine (MPTP)-induced Parkinson's disease (PD) mouse model. MPTP significantly decreased TH and DAT mRNA levels in the striatum and midbrain of both female and male C57BL/6 mice. However, with BFP pre-treatment mice showed a reduced neurotoxicity, with TH and DAT mRNA levels either not affected by MPTP or affected to a lesser extent in the midbrain and striatum when compared to vehicle treated animals. Possible anti-apoptotic activity of BFP was further studied in a dopamine-secreting neuroendocrine cell line, PC12. In this assay, MPTP elevated the expression of a pro-apoptotic gene, Bax, while this expression was reduced by BFP pre-treatment. Flow cytometry results also revealed that the effect of MPTP-induced apoptosis in PC12 cell lines was significantly reduced by BFP. The present results suggest that BFP is able to protect dopaminergic neurons from neurotoxin-induced neuronal injury with anti-apoptotic activity being one of the possible mechanisms.

Key words: Tyrosine hydroxylase, Dopamine transporter, Apoptosis, Dopamine, Parkinson's disease.

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +852 2609 6839; fax: +852 2603 5022.

Received 27 February 2007/22 May 2007; accepted 27 August 2007


ISSN Print: 1065-6995
ISSN Electronic: 1095-8355
Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the International Federation for Cell Biology (IFCB)