1Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, 2College of Pharmacy, 3Division of Bio-resources Technology, Kangwon National University, Chunchon 200-701, 4Department of Radiology, Ilsan Paik Hospital, Inje University, School of Medicine, Goyang 411-706, Korea
Urushinol, a plant allergen, has significantly restricted the medical application of Rhus verniciflua, although it has been reported to possess a wide variety of biological activities such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer actions. To reduce the urushinol content while maintaining the beneficial biological activities, mushroom-mediated fermentation of Rhus verniciflua was carried out and this method resulted in significantly attenuated allergenicity . In the present study, to examine the neuroprotective properties of mushroom-fermented stem bark of Rhus verniciflua, two constituents were isolated from mushroom-fermented bark and their neuroprotective properties were examined in a mouse model of kainic acid (KA)-induced excitotoxicity. KA resulted in significant apoptotic neuronal cell death in the CA3 region of mouse hippocampus. However, seven daily administrations of RVH-1 or RVH-2 prior to KA injection significantly attenuated KA-induced pyramidal neuronal cell death in the CA3 region. Furthermore, pretreatment with RVH-1 and RVH-2 also suppressed KA-induced microglial activation in the mouse hippocampus. The present study demonstrates that RVH-1 and RVH-2 isolated from Rhus verniciflua and detoxified using mushroom species possess neuroprotective properties against KA-induced excitotoxicity. This leads to the possibility that detoxified Rhus verniciflua can be a valuable asset in herbal medicine.