Mechanism of phytoestrogen puerarin-mediated cytoprotection following oxidative injury: estrogen receptor-dependent up-regulation of PI3K/Akt and HO-1

Yong Pil Hwang, Hye Gwang Jeong
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2008 December 15, 233 (3): 371-81
Phytoestrogens are polyphenolic non-steroidal plant compounds with estrogen-like biological activity. The phytoestrogen puerarin, the main isoflavone glycoside found in the root of Pueraria lobata, has been used for various medicinal purposes in traditional Chinese medicines for thousands of years. Recent studies have indicated that the estrogen receptor (ER), through interaction with p85, regulates phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activity, revealing a physiologic, non-nuclear function of ER that may be relevant in cytoprotection. In this study, we demonstrate that the phytoestrogen puerarin inhibits tert-butyl hydroperoxide (t-BHP)-induced oxidative injury via an ER-dependent Gbeta1/PI3K/Akt and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) pathway. Pretreatment of Hepa1c1c7 and HepG2 cells with puerarin significantly reduced t-BHP-induced caspase-3 activation and subsequent cell death. Also, puerarin up-regulated HO-1 expression and this expression conferred cytoprotection against oxidative injury induced by t-BHP. Moreover, puerarin induced Nrf2 nuclear translocation, which is upstream of puerarin-induced HO-1 expression, and PI3K activation, a pathway that is involved in induced Nrf2 nuclear translocation, HO-1 expression and cytoprotection. Puerarin-induced up-regulation of HO-1 and cytoprotection against t-BHP were abolished by silencing Nrf2 expression with specific siRNA. Also, puerarin-mediated increases in PI3K activation and HO-1 induction were reversed by co-treatment with ICI 182,780 and pertussis toxin. Taken together, these results suggest that puerarin augments cellular antioxidant defense capacity through ER-dependent HO-1 induction via the Gbeta1/PI3K/Akt-Nrf2 signaling pathway, thereby protecting cells from oxidative stress.

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