Sulforaphene Ameliorates Neuroinflammation and Hyperphosphorylated Tau Protein via Regulating the PI3K/Akt/GSK-3 β Pathway in Experimental Models of Alzheimer's Disease

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2020 Sep 10:2020:4754195. doi: 10.1155/2020/4754195. eCollection 2020.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia characterized by progressive loss of cognitive functions due to neuronal death mainly in the hippocampal and cortical brain. Sulforaphene (SF) is one of the main isothiocyanates isolated from a Chinese herb Raphani Semen. In this study, we aimed to investigate the neuroprotective effects of SF using in vitro and in vivo models of AD. Streptozotocin (STZ) was intracranially injected into the rats; then, SF (25 and 50 mg/kg) was given orally once a day for 6 consecutive weeks. After drug treatment, the cognitive functions were assessed using the Morris Water Maze Test (MWMT). After the MWMT, the rats were euthanized and brain tissues were collected. In the in vitro test, BV-2 microglia were pretreated with SF (1 and 2 μM) for 1 h and then stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for another 23 h. Both molecular and histological methods were used to unravel the action mechanisms and elucidate the signaling pathway. The MWMT results showed that SF treatment significantly improved the STZ-induced cognitive deficits in rats. SF treatment markedly suppressed the production of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) but increased the release of IL-10 in the STZ-treated rats. In addition, SF significantly inhibited the phosphorylation of tau protein at Thr205, Ser396, and Ser404 sites, while enhancing the ratios of p-Akt (Ser473)/Akt and p-GSK-3β (Ser9)/GSK-3β in the hippocampus of the STZ-treated rats. On the other hand, SF (1 and 2 μM) treatment also markedly attenuated the cytotoxicity induced by LPS in BV-2 cells. In addition, SF treatment obviously suppressed the releases of nitric oxide (NO), TNF-α, and IL-6 in the LPS-stimulated BV-2 cells. Moreover, SF treatment significantly mitigated the nuclear translocation of p-NF-κB p65 and the ratio of p-GSK-3β (Ser9)/GSK-3β in LPS-stimulated BV-2 cells. Taken together, SF possessed neuroprotective effects against the STZ-induced cognitive deficits in rats and LPS-induced neuroinflammation in BV-2 cells via modulation of the PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β pathway and inhibition of the NF-κB activation, suggesting that SF is a promising neuroprotective agent worthy of further development into AD treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / enzymology
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / drug therapy
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Isothiocyanates / chemistry
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology
  • Isothiocyanates / therapeutic use*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microglia / drug effects
  • Microglia / pathology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Streptozocin
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • tau Proteins
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Streptozocin
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • sulphoraphene