Department of Orthopedics, General Hospital of Shenyang Military Area Command of Chinese PLA, Shenyang, 110016 Liaoning, China.
# Junxiong Ma, and Jun Liu contribute equally to this work.
Ginsenoside Rg1 (GRg1) has been considered to have therapeutic potential in promoting peripheral nerve regeneration and functional recovery after sciatic nerve injuries. However, the mechanism underlying the beneficial effect of GRg1 on peripheral nerve regeneration is currently unclear. The possible effect of GRg1 on Schwann cells (SCs), which were subjected to oxidative injury after nerve injury, might contribute to the beneficial effect of GRg1 on nerve regeneration. The present study was designed to investigate the potential beneficial effect of GRg1 on SCs exposed to oxidative injury. The oxidative injury to SCs was induced by hydrogen peroxide. The effect of GRg1 (50 μM) on SCs exposed to oxidative injury was measured by the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GSH) and catalase (CAT) in SCs. The cell number and cell viability of SCs were evaluated through fluorescence observation and MTT assay. The apoptosis of SCs induced by oxidative injury was evaluated by an apoptosis assay. The expression and secretion of nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were evaluated using RT-PCR, Western blotting, and an ELISA method. We found that GRg1 significantly up-regulated the level of SOD, GSH and CAT, and decreased the level of MDA in SCs treated with hydrogen peroxide. In addition, GRg1 has been shown to be able to inhibit the proapoptotic effect of hydrogen peroxide, as well as inhibit the detrimental effect of hydrogen peroxide on cell number and cell viability. Furthermore, GRg1 also increased the mRNA levels, protein levels and secretion of NGF and BDNF in SCs after incubation of hydrogen peroxide. Further study showed that preincubation with H89 (a PKA inhibitor) significantly inhibited the effects induced by hydrogen peroxide, indicating that the PKA pathway might be involved in the antioxidant effect and neurotrophic factors (NTFs) promoting effect of GRg1. In addition, a short-term in vivo study was performed to confirm and validate the antioxidant effect and nerve regeneration-promoting effect of GRg1 in a sciatic crush injury model in rats. We found that GRg1 significantly increased SOD, CAT and GSH, decreased MDA, as well as promoted nerve regeneration after crush injury. In conclusion, the present study showed that GRg1 is capable of helping SCs recover from the oxidative insult induced by hydrogen peroxide, which might account, at least in part, for the beneficial effect of GRg1 on nerve regeneration.
Keywords: Ginsenoside Rg1 (GRg1), Schwann cell, hydrogen peroxide, oxidative injury.