Caffeic acid phenethyl ester prevents cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) against glutamate-induced neurotoxicity

X. Wei, Z. Ma, C. V. Fontanilla, L. Zhao, Z. C. Xu, V. Taggliabraci, B. H. Johnstone, R. C. Dodel, M. R. Farlow, Y. Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is an active component of propolis obtained from honeybee hives and is found to have the following properties: anti-mitogenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant. Recent reports suggest that CAPE also has a neuronal protective property against ischemic injury. Since excitotoxicity may play an important role in ischemia, in this study, we investigated whether CAPE could directly protect neurons against excitotoxic insult. We treated cultured rat cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) with excitotoxic concentrations of glutamate in the presence or absence of CAPE and found that CAPE markedly protected neurons against glutamate-induced neuronal death in a concentration-dependent fashion. Glutamate-induced CGNs death is associated with time-dependent activation of caspase-3 and phosphorylation of p38, both events of which can be blocked by CAPE. Treating CGNs with specific inhibitors of these two enzymes together exerts a synergistic neuroprotective effect, similar to the neuroprotective effect of CAPE exposure. These results suggest that CAPE is able to block glutamate-induced excitotoxicity by inhibiting phosphorylation of p38 and caspase-3 activation. This finding may further help understanding of the mechanism of glutamate-induced neuronal death and CAPE-induced neuroprotection against excitotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1098-1105
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 9 2008


  • CAPE
  • caspase 3
  • glutamate
  • neuron
  • neuroprotection
  • p38

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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