Chronic neurodegenerative disorders are having an increasing impact on public health as human longevity increases. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system and is characterized by motor system disorders resulting in loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Pueraria thomsonii Benth. (Fabaceae) is an herbal medicine that has traditionally been used as an antipyretic agent. In the present study, the active constituents, daidzein and genistein, were isolated from P. thomsonii. Both compounds exhibited neurocytoprotective effects against 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced cytotoxicity in nerve growth factor (NGF)-differentiated PC12 cells. Neither daidzein nor genistein affected 6-OHDA-induced cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation according to flow cytometric analysis. Rather, they inhibited caspase-8 and partially inhibited caspase-3 activation, providing a protective mechanism against 6-OHDA-induced cytotoxicity in NGF-differentiated PC12 cells. The present results imply that daidzein and genistein may be useful in the development of future strategies for the treatment of PD.
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