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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 2694261, 10 pages
Research Article

Icariin Prevents H2O2-Induced Apoptosis via the PI3K/Akt Pathway in Rat Nucleus Pulposus Intervertebral Disc Cells

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430022, China
2Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430022, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Dong Zheng

Received 29 December 2016; Revised 20 March 2017; Accepted 27 March 2017; Published 27 April 2017

Academic Editor: Nilufar Mamadalieva

Copyright © 2017 Xiangyu Deng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Icariin is a prenylated flavonol glycoside derived from the Chinese herb Epimedium sagittatum. This study investigated the mechanism by which icariin prevents H2O2-induced apoptosis in rat nucleus pulposus (NP) cells. NP cells were isolated from the rat intervertebral disc and they were divided into five groups after 3 passages: (A) blank control; (B) 200 μM H2O2; (C) 200 μM H2O2 + 20 μM icariin; (D) 20 μM icariin + 200 μM H2O2 + 25 μM LY294002; (E) 200 μM H2O2 + 25 μM LY294002. LY294002 is a selective inhibitor of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway. NP cell viability, apoptosis rate, intracellular reactive oxygen species levels, and the expression of AKT, p-AKT, p53, Bcl-2, Bax, caspase-3 were estimated. The results show that, compared with the control group, H2O2 significantly increased NP cell apoptosis and the level of intracellular ROS. Icariin pretreatment significantly decreased H2O2-induced apoptosis and intracellular ROS and upregulated p-Akt and BCL-2 and downregulated caspase-3 and Bax. LY294002 abolished the protective effects of icariin. Our results show that icariin can attenuate H2O2-induced apoptosis in rat nucleus pulposus cells and PI3K/AKT pathway is at least partly included in this protection effect.