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The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-018-2095-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Icariin (ICA), a major ingredient of Epimediumbrevicornum, has various pharmacological activities including central nervous system protective functions such as the improvement of learning and memory function in mice models of Alzheimer’s disease. It has been reported that ICA can promote regeneration of peripheral nerve and functional recovery. The purpose of this study was to investigate the potentiating effect of ICA on the proliferation of rat hippocampal neural stem cells, and explore the possible mechanism involved.
Primary neural stem cells were prepared from the hippocampus of newly born SD rats, and cells were cultured in special stem cell culture medium. Neural stem cells were confirmed by immunofluorescence detection of nestin, NSE and GFAP expression. The effect of ICA on the growth and proliferation of the neural stem cells was evaluated by 5-ethynyl-2-deoxyuridine (EdU) labeling of proliferating cells, and photomicrographic images of the cultured neural stem cells. Further, the mechanism of ICA-induced cell proliferation of neural stem cells was investigated by analyzing the gene and protein expression of cell cycle related genes cyclin D1 and p21.
The present study showed that icariin promotes the growth and proliferation of neural stem cells from rat hippocampus in a dose-dependent manner. Incubation of cells with icariin resulted in significant increase in the number of stem cell spheres as well as the increased incorporation of EdU when compared with cells exposed to control vehicle. In addition, it was found that icariin-induced effect on neural stem cells is associated with increased mRNA and protein expression of cell cycle genes cyclin D1 and p21.
This study evidently demonstrates the potentiating effect of ICA on neural stem cell growth and proliferation, which might be mediated through regulation of cell cycle gene and protein expression promoting cell cycle progression.