Evaluation of molecular chaperons Hsp72 and neuropeptide Y as characteristic markers of adaptogenic activity of plant extracts

Phytomedicine. 2013 Nov 15;20(14):1323-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2013.07.001. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


We have previously demonstrated that ADAPT-232, a fixed combination of adaptogenic substances derived from Eleutherococcus senticosus root extract, Schisandra chinensis berry extract, Rhodiola rosea root extract stimulated the expression and release of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and molecular chaperone Hsp72 from isolated human neurolgia cells. Both of these mediators of stress response are known to play an important role in regulation of neuroendocrine system and immune response. We further demonstrated that ADAPT-232 induced release of Hsp70 is mediated by NPY, suggesting an existence of NPY-mediated pathway of activation of Hsp72 release into the blood circulation system. The objective of this study was to determine whether this pathway is common for adaptogens and whether NPY and/or Hsp72 can be considered as necessary specific biomarkers for adaptogenic activity. The release of NPY and Hsp72 from neuroglia cells in response to treatment with various plant extracts (n=23) including selected validated adaptogens, partly validated adaptogens, claimed but negligibly validated adaptogens and some other plant extracts affecting neuroendocrine and immune systems but never considered as adaptogens was measured using high throughput ELISA techniques. We demonstrated that adaptogens, e.g. R. rosea, S. chinensis and E. senticosus stimulate both NPY and Hsp70 release from neuroblastoma cells, while tonics and stimulants have no significant effect on NPY in this in vitro test. In the groups of partly validated adaptogens the effect of Panax ginseng and Withania somnifera was not statistically significant both on NPY and Hsp70 release, while the activating effect of Bryonia alba and Rhaponticum cartamoides was significant only on Hsp70. In contrast, all tested non-adaptogens, such as antiinflammatoty plant extracts Matricaria recutita, Pelargonium sidoides, Hedera helix and Vitis vinifera significantly inhibit Hsp70 release and have no influence on NPY release from neuroblastoma cells. These experiments were further validated using primary human neurons and confirmed that adaptogens activate the release of both NPY and Hsp70, while tested non adaptogens were inactive in NPY assay and inhibit the release of Hsp70. Taken together, our data demonstrates for the first time that neuropeptide Y and heat shock protein Hsp70 can be used as molecular biomarkers for adaptogenic activity.

Keywords: Adaptogen; Chaperon Hsp72; Neuroglia cells; Neuropeptide Y; Primary human neurons..

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Eleutherococcus*
  • Fruit
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neuropeptide Y / metabolism*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots
  • Rhodiola*
  • Schisandra*
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects


  • Biomarkers
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP72 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Plant Extracts