Molecular Biology Reports

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 6013–6025 | Cite as

Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) Kuntze has neuroprotective action through mitochondrial modulation in dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells

  • Catia Santos BrancoEmail author
  • Angela Duong
  • Alencar Kolinski Machado
  • Abbie Wu
  • Gustavo Scola
  • Ana Cristina Andreazza
  • Mirian Salvador
Original Article


Brain disorders (BD) including neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, are often associated with impairments in mitochondrial function and oxidative damage that can lead to neuronal injury. The mitochondrial complex I enzyme is one of the main sites of ROS generation and is implicated in many BD pathophysiologies. Despite advances in therapeutics for BD management, conventional pharmacotherapy still cannot efficiently control neuronal redox imbalance and mitochondrial dysfunction. Araucaria angustifolia is one of the main pine species in South America and presents a notable therapeutic history in folk medicine. A. angustifolia extract (AAE), obtained from the natural waste named bracts, is rich in flavonoids; molecules able to regulate cell redox metabolism. We examined the effects of AAE on rotenone-induced mitochondrial complex I dysfunction in human dopaminergic SH-SY5Y cells. AAE restored complex I assembly and activity mainly through overexpression of NDUFS7 protein and NDUFV2 gene levels. These findings were accompanied by a reduction in the generation of neuronal reactive oxygen species and lipid peroxidation. Our data demonstrates, for the first time, that AAE exerts in vitro neuroprotective effects, thus making it an interesting source for future drug development in BD-associated mitochondrial dysfunctions.

Graphic abstract


Araucaria angustifolia Polyphenols Complex I Redox imbalance Rotenone 



This study has been supported by grants from “Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq)”, “Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS)”, and from “Coordenação de Apoio de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES)”, Brazil. Dr. Catia S. Branco is the recipient of a CNPq Research Fellowship (233548/2014-9), along with Dr. Mirian Salvador (308383/2015-1). Dr. Gustavo Scola is supported by Camh Foundation (PDF Award).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The Authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BiotechnologyUniversity of Caxias do SulCaxias do SulBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and ToxicologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Franciscan UniversitySanta MariaBrazil
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – CAMHTorontoCanada

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