2017 Volume 40 Issue 10 Pages 1724-1729
Aging leads to functional changes in the brain and decreases ability of learning and memory. Neurite outgrowth is important in learning and memory, therefore regulation of neurite outgrowth might be a candidate for treating aged brain. Echinocystic acid (EA), a pentacyclic triterpene, has shown to exert various neurological effects. However, the effect of EA on neurite outgrowth has not been studied. In this study, we examined if EA is effective on neurite outgrowth and memory in aged mice. The effect of EA on neurite outgrowth was observed by examining neurite processes of Neuro2a cells treated with EA. Western blot analysis was conducted to examine possible mechanisms. Morris water maze test was used to examine the effect of EA on learning and memory in aged mice. Immunohistochemistry was conducted to observe the effect of EA on neurite outgrowth in the hippocampus. EA was shown to induce neurite outgrowth in a concentration dependent manner without affecting cell viability. Moreover, EA treatment increased phosphorylation of c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and JNK inhibitor, SP600125, blocked the effect of EA on neurite outgrowth. These results demonstrated that EA treatment promotes neurite outgrowth through the JNK signaling pathway. In in vivo experiments, EA treatment increased neurite outgrowth in aged mouse hippocampus. Moreover, EA treatment enhanced spatial learning and memory in aged mice. These results suggest that EA can be developed as a new, naturally occurring drug to treat ageing-related neurological diseases.