Hydroxysafflor yellow a protects brain microvascular endothelial cells against oxygen glucose deprivation/reoxygenation injury: involvement of inhibiting autophagy via class I PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway

Guang Yang, Ning Wang, Sai Wang Seto, Dennis Chang, Huazheng Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The present study aimed to test whether Hydroxysafflor yellow A (HSYA) protects the brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) injury induced by oxygen glucose deprivation/reoxygenation (OGD/R) via the PI3K/Akt/mTOR autophagy signaling pathway. Primary rat BMECs were cultured and identified by the expression of factor VIII-related antigen before being exposed to OGD/R to imitate ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) damage in vitro. The protective effect of HSYA was evaluated by assessing (1) cellular morphologic and ultrastructural changes; (2) cell viability and cytotoxicity; (3) transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) of monolayer BMECs; (4) cell apoptosis; (5) fluorescence intensity of LC3B; (6) LC3 mRNA expression; (7) protein expressions of LC3, Beclin-1, Zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), phospho-Akt (p-Akt), Akt, phospho-mTOR (p-mTOR) and mTOR. It was found that HSYA (20, 40, and 80 μM) and 3-MA effectively reversed the cellular morphological and ultrastructural changes, increased cell survival, normalized the permeability of BMECs, and suppressed apoptosis induced by OGD/R (2 h OGD followed by 24 h reoxygenation). Concurrently, HSYA and 3-MA also inhibited OGD/R-induced autophagy evidenced by the decreased number of autophagosomes and down-regulated levels of LC3 and Beclin-1 proteins and mRNAs. HSYA (80 μM), in combination with 3-MA showed a synergistic effect. Mechanistic studies revealed that HSYA (80 μM) markedly increased the levels of p-Akt and p-mTOR proteins. Blockade of PI3K activity by ZSTK474 abolished its anti-autophagic and pro-survival effect and lowered both Akt and mTOR phosphorylation levels. Taken together, these results suggest that HSYA protects BMECs against OGD/R-induced injury by inhibiting autophagy via the Class I PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-257
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autophagy
  • Brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs)
  • Class I PI3K/Akt/mTOR
  • Hydroxysafflor yellow A (HSYA)
  • Oxygen glucose deprivation/reoxygenation (OGD/R)

Cite this