Ginkgo biloba leaf extract (EGb-761) elicits neuroprotection against cerebral ischemia/reperfusion injury by enhancement of autophagy flux in neurons in the penumbra

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Basic Medicine, Medical School, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Kunming 650500, China


Objective(s): Ginkgo biloba leaf extract (EGb-761) injection has been widely used as adjuvant therapy for cerebral stroke in China. However, its underlying pharmacological mechanism is not completely understood. The present study aimed to investigate whether the therapeutic effects of EGb-761 are exerted by modulating autophagy flux.
Materials and Methods: Ischemic cerebral stroke was prepared in male Sprague-Dawley rats by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) followed by reperfusion. The MCAO/reperfusion rats were then treated with EGb-761 injection once daily for 7 days. Thereafter, the brain tissues in the ischemic penumbra were obtained to detect the key proteins in the autophagic/lysosomal pathway with Beclin1, LC3, (SQSTM1)/p62, ubiquitin, LAMP-1, cathepsin B, and cathepsin D antibodies by western blot and immunofluorescence. Meanwhile, the infarct volume, neurological deficits, and neuronal apoptosis were assessed to evaluate the therapeutic outcomes.
Results: The results illustrated that EGb-761 treatment was not only able to promote the autophagic activities of Beclin1 and LC3-II in neurons, but also could enhance the autophagic clearance, as indicated by reinforced lysosomal activities of LAMP-1, cathepsin B, and cathepsin D, as well as alleviating autophagic accumulation of ubiquitin and insoluble p62 in the MCAO+EGb-761 group, compared with those in the MCAO+saline group. Meanwhile, cerebral ischemia-induced neurological deficits, infarct volume, and neuronal apoptosis were significantly attenuated by 7 days of EGb-761 therapy.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that EGb-761 injection can elicit a neuroprotective efficacy against MCAO/reperfusion injury, and this neuroprotection may be exerted by enhancement of autophagy flux in neurons in the ischemic penumbra.


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