(−)-Epicatechin is a brain-permeable, natural product found at high concentrations in green tea and cocoa. Our previous research has shown that (−)-epicatechin treatment reduces hemorrhagic stroke injury via nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) signaling pathway in vivo. However, the mechanism of action of this compound in modulation of oxidant stress and in protection against hemoglobin-induced astrocyte injury is unclear. Therefore, we explored the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie these protective effects in vitro. Mouse primary astrocytes isolated from wild-type mice and Nrf2 knockout (KO) mice were preconditioned with hemoglobin to simulate intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in vitro. Effects of (−)-epicatechin were measured by Western blotting, immunostaining, MTT assay, and reactive oxidant stress (ROS) assay. (−)-Epicatechin increased Nrf2 nuclear accumulation and cytoplasmic levels of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) in wild-type astrocytes but did not increase SOD1 expression in Nrf2 knockout (KO) astrocytes. Furthermore, (−)-epicatechin treatment did not alter heme oxygenase 1 (HO1) expression in wild-type astrocytes after hemoglobin exposure, but it did decrease HO1 expression in similarly treated Nrf2 KO astrocytes. In both wild-type and Nrf2 KO astrocytes, (−)-epicatechin suppressed phosphorylated JNK and nuclear expression of JNK, c-jun, and c-fos, indicating that inhibition of activator protein-1 (AP-1) activity by (−)-epicatechin is Nrf2-independent. These novel findings indicate that (−)-epicatechin protects astrocytes against hemoglobin toxicity through upregulation of Nrf2 and inhibition of AP-1 activity. These cellular and molecular effects may partially explain the cerebroprotection as we previously observed for (−)-epicatechin in animal models of ICH.
- Heme oxygenase 1
- Intracerebral hemorrhage
- Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2
- Reactive oxygen species
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience