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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 1/2018

Anti-apoptotic potential of several antidiabetic medicinal plants of the eastern James Bay Cree pharmacopeia in cultured kidney cells

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2018
Shilin Li, Sarah Pasquin, Hoda M. Eid, Jean-François Gauchat, Ammar Saleem, Pierre S. Haddad



Our team has identified 17 Boreal forest species from the traditional pharmacopeia of the Eastern James Bay Cree that presented promising in vitro and in vivo biological activities in the context of type 2 diabetes (T2D).
We now screened the 17 plants extracts for potential anti-apoptotic activity in cultured kidney cells and investigated the underlying mechanisms.


MDCK (Madin-Darnby Canine Kidney) cell damage was induced by hypertonic medium (700 mOsm/L) in the presence or absence of maximal nontoxic concentrations of each of the 17 plant extracts. After 18 h’ treatment, cells were stained with Annexin V (AnnV) and Propidium iodide (PI) and subjected to flow cytometry to assess the cytoprotective (AnnV/PI) and anti-apoptotic (AnnV+/PI) potential of the 17 plant extracts. We then selected a representative subset of species (most cytoprotective, moderately so or neutral) to measure the activity of caspases 3, 8 and 9.


Gaultheria hispidula and Abies balsamea are amongst the most powerful cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic plants and appear to exert their modulatory effect primarily by inhibiting caspase 9 in the mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathway.


We conclude that several Cree antidiabetic plants exert anti-apoptotic activity that may be relevant in the context of diabetic nephropathy (DN) that affects a significant proportion of Cree diabetics.
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