Salicin from Willow Bark can Modulate Neurite Outgrowth in Human Neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y Cells

Phytother Res. 2015 Oct;29(10):1494-500. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5400. Epub 2015 Jun 19.


Salicin from willow bark has been used throughout centuries in China and Europe for the treatment of pain, headache, and inflammatory conditions. Recently, it could be demonstrated that salicin binds and activates the bitter taste receptor TAS2R16. Studies on rodent tissues showed the general expression of bitter taste receptors (TAS2Rs) in rodent brain. Here, we demonstrate the expression of hTAS2R16 in human neuronal tissues and the neuroblastoma cell line SH-SY5Y. The functionality was analyzed in the neuroblastoma cell line SH-SY5Y after stimulation with salicin, a known TAS2R16 agonist. In this setting salicin induced in SH-SY5Y cells phosphorylation of ERK and CREB, the key transcription factor of neuronal differentiation. PD98059, an inhibitor of the ERK pathway, as well as probenecid, a TAS2R16 antagonist, inhibited receptor phosphorylation as well as neurite outgrowth. These data show that salicin might modulate neurite outgrowth by bitter taste receptor activation.

Keywords: ERK and CREB; brain; neurite outgrowth; salicin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzyl Alcohols / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Glucosides / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Neurites / drug effects*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Salix
  • Signal Transduction


  • Benzyl Alcohols
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Glucosides
  • salicin