Chrysophanic acid, or chrysophanol, is an anthraquinone found in Rheum palmatum, which was used in the preparation of oriental medicine in ancient China. The hippocampus plays a major role in controlling the activities of the short- and long-term memory. It is one of the major regions affected by excessive cell death in Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, neuronal cell-death modulation in the hippocampus is important for maintaining neuronal function. We investigated chrysophanol's effects on glutamate-induced hippocampal neuronal cell death. Chrysophanol reduced glutamate-induced cell death via suppression of proapoptotic factors and reactive oxygen species generation. Furthermore, it downregulated glutamate-induced mitochondrial fission by inhibiting dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) dephosphorylation. Thus, chrysophanol suppressed hippocampal neuronal cell death via inhibition of Drp1-dependent mitochondrial fission, and can be used as a therapeutic agent for treating neuronal cell death-mediated neurodegenerative diseases.

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