A traditional Chinese Medicine, YXQN, Reduces Amyloid-induced Cytotoxicity by Inhibiting Aβ42 Aggregation and Fibril Formation

Curr Pharm Des. 2020;26(7):780-789. doi: 10.2174/1381612826666200207120602.


Introduction: The accumulation of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) decreases cerebral blood flow in elderly people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and is believed to be the initiator of this disorder. As a traditional Chinese medicine, Yangxue Qingnao (YXQN) improves cerebral insufficiency and attenuates cognitive impairment, showing potential against AD. But whether YXQN has the ability to block Aβ self-aggregation is rarely reported.

Objective: Here, we investigate the effects of YXQN on Aβ accumulation and its mediated cytotoxicity using a range of biochemical, biophysical, and cell-based approaches.

Methods: Thioflavin T assay, transmission electron microscope, and 1H NMR experiments were used to investigate the effects of YXQN on Aβ fibrogenesis and aggregation. Far-UV CD spectra were acquired to assess the alteration of YXQN on the conformation of the amyloid protein. Three short Aβ42 peptides (AA 1-16, AA 17-33 and AA 28-42) were designed to analyse the Aβ42 epitope to which YXQN components bind. The effect of YXQN on Aβ-induced cytotoxicity was investigated through SH-SY5Y cell viability assay.

Results: We provide evidence showing that YXQN clearly reduces Aβ42 fibrillogenesis and alters its β-sheet conformation, indicating the inhibition of primary nucleation of amyloid protein. Using the different Aβ short peptides, residues 17-33 were identified as the target epitope for YXNQ components interacting with Aβ42. Furthermore, in the SH-SY5Y cell injury model, our data show that high-dose YXQN attenuates amyloid-induced cytotoxicity approximately 60% and effectively ameliorates cell distortion in morphology.

Conclusion: Based on these results, YXQN exerts a neuroprotective effect by inhibiting Aβ42 toxic aggregation, which has the potential to combat AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Aβ-induced cytotoxicity; Aβ42 aggregation; YXQN; aggregation; fibrogenesis..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / drug therapy
  • Amyloid
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Peptide Fragments*
  • Protein Aggregation, Pathological / drug therapy*


  • Amyloid
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Peptide Fragments
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-42)