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Neuroprotective effects of 20(S)-protopanaxadiol against glutamate-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in PC12 cells.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Mey.) is commonly used in traditional oriental medicine for its wide spectrum of medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, adaptogenic and anti-aging properties. 20(S)-Protopanaxadiol (PPD), the main intestinal metabolite of ginsenosides, is one of the active ingredients in ginseng. In this study, we aimed to investigate the neuroprotective effects of PPD on PC12 cells; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We examined cell viability by MTT assay and the morphological changes of PC12 cells following glutamate‑induced cell damage and evaluated the anti‑apoptotic effects of PPD using Hoechst 33258 staining, western blot analysis and Muse™ Cell Analyzer and the antioxidant effects of PPD using FACS analysis and immunofluorescence. Furthermore, PPD exerted protective effects on PC12 cells via the inhibition of mitochondrial damage against glutamate-induced excitotoxicity using immunofluorescence, electron microscopy and FACS analysis. We demonstrate that treatment with PPD suppresses apoptosis, which contributes to the neuroprotective effects of PPD against glutamate‑induced excitotoxicity in PC12 cells. Treatment with PPD inhibited nuclear condensation and decreased the number of Annexin V-positive cells. In addition, PPD increased antioxidant activity and mitochondrial homeostasis in the glutamate-exposed cells. These antioxidant effects were responsible for the neuroprotection and enhanced mitochondrial function following treatment with PPD. Furthermore, PD inhibited the glutamate-induced morphological changes in the mitochondria and scavenged the mitochondrial and cytosolic reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by glutamate. In addition, mitochondrial function was significantly improved in terms of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and enhanced mitochondrial mass compared with the cells exposed to glutamate and not treated with PPD. Taken together, the findings of our study indicate that the antioxidant effects and the enhanced mitochondrial function triggered by PPD contribute to the inhibition of apoptosis, thus leading to a neuroprotective response, as a novel survival mechanism.