Moringa oleifera (MO) is a medicinal plant that has been shown to possess antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and antibiotic activities. In a rat model, MO extract (MOe) has been shown to have a protective effect against brain damage and memory decline. As an extending study, here, we have examined the protective effect of MOe against oxidative stress and apoptosis caused in human neuroblastome (SH-SY5Y) cells by di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a plasticizer known to induce neurotoxicity. Our data show that MOe prevents oxidative damage by lowering reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, restoring mitochondrial respiratory chain complex activities, and, in addition, by modulating the expression of vitagenes, i.e., antioxidant proteins Nrf2 and HO-1. Moreover, MOe prevented neuronal damage by partly inhibiting endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, as indicated by decreased expression of CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) and Glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) proteins. MOe also protected SH-SY5Y cells from DEHP-induced apoptosis, preserving mitochondrial membrane permeability and caspase-3 activation. Our findings provide insight into understanding of molecular mechanisms involved in neuroprotective effects by MOe against DEHP damage
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