Paullinia cupana Mart. var. Sorbilis protects human dopaminergic neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line against rotenone-induced cytotoxicity

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Sep;30(9):1382-91. doi: 10.1177/0960327110389837. Epub 2010 Nov 16.


Paullinia cupana Mart. var. Sorbilis, commonly known as Guaraná, is a Brazilian plant frequently cited for its antioxidant properties and different pharmacological activities on the central nervous system. The potential beneficial uses of Guaraná in neurodegenerative disorders, such as in Parkinson's disease (PD), the pathogenesis of which is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress, has not yet been assessed. Therefore, the main aim of the present study was to evaluate if an extract of commercial powdered seeds of Guaraná could protect human dopaminergic neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line against rotenone-induced cytotoxicity. Two concentration of Guaraná dimethylsulfoxide extract (0.312 and 0.625 mg/mL) were added to SH-SY5Y cells treated with 300 nM rotenone for 48 h, and the cytoprotective effects were assessed by means of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, measuring lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels, and analyzing nuclear integrity with Hoechst33258 stain. Results showed that the addition of Guaraná extract significantly increased the cell viability of SH-SY5Y cells treated with rotenone, in a dose-dependent manner. On the other hand, LDH levels were significantly reduced by addition of 0.312 mg/mL of Guaraná, but unexpectedly, no changes were observed with the higher concentration. Moreover, chromatin condensation and nuclear fragmentation were significantly reduced by addition of any of both concentrations of the extract. The results obtained in this work could provide relevant information about the mechanisms underlying the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in PD and precede in vivo experiments. Further studies are needed to investigate which active constituent is responsible for the cytoprotective effect produced by Paullinia cupana.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Paullinia / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rotenone / toxicity*
  • Seeds / chemistry


  • Antioxidants
  • Insecticides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Rotenone