Background: Recently, several studies have reported Yokukansan (Tsumura TJ-54), a traditional Japanese medicine, as a potential new drug for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is known to play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD, particularly in neuronal death. Therefore, we examined the effect of Yokukansan on ER stress-induced neurotoxicity and on familial AD-linked presenilin-1 mutation-associated cell death. Methods: We employed the WST-1 assay and monitored morphological changes to evaluate cell viability following Yokukansan treatment or treatment with its components. Western blotting and PCR were used to observe the expression levels of GRP78/BiP, caspase-4 and C/EBP homologous protein. Results: Yokukansan inhibited neuronal death during ER stress, with Cnidii Rhizoma (Senkyu), a component of Yokukansan, being particularly effective. We also showed that Yokukansan and Senkyu affect the unfolded protein response following ER stress and that these drugs inhibit the activation of caspase-4, resulting in the inhibition of ER stress-induced neuronal death. Furthermore, we found that the protective effect of Yokukansan and Senkyu against ER stress could be attributed to the ferulic acid content of these two drugs. Conclusions: Our results indicate that Yokukansan, Senkyu and ferulic acid are protective against ER stress-induced neuronal cell death and may provide a possible new treatment for AD. © 2010 Hiratsuka et al.
Hiratsuka, T., Matsuzaki, S., Miyata, S., Kinoshita, M., Kakehi, K., Nishida, S., … Tohyama, M. (2010). Yokukansan inhibits neuronal death during ER stress by regulating the unfolded protein response. PLoS ONE, 5(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013280