The plant natural product 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone stimulates therapeutic neural repair properties of olfactory ensheathing cells

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Chen, M
Vial, ML
Gee, L
Davis, RA
St John, JA
Ekberg, JAK
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Olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) are crucial for promoting the regeneration of the primary olfactory nervous system that occurs throughout life. Transplantation of OECs has emerged as a promising therapy for nervous system injuries, in particular for spinal cord injury repair. Functional outcomes in both animals and humans are, however, highly variable, primarily because it is difficult to rapidly obtain enough OECs for transplantation. Compounds which can stimulate OEC proliferation without changing the phenotype of the cells are therefore highly sought after. Additionally, compounds which can stimulate favourable cell behaviours such as migration and phagocytic activity are desirable. We conducted a medium-throughput screen testing the Davis open access natural product-based library (472 compounds) and subsequently identified the known plant natural product 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone as a stimulant of OEC viability. We showed that 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone: (i) strongly stimulates proliferation over several weeks in culture whilst maintaining the OEC phenotype; (ii) stimulates the phagocytic activity of OECs, and (iii) modulates the cell cycle. We also identified the transcription factor Nrf2 as the compound’s potential molecular target. From these extensive investigations we conclude that 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone may enhance the therapeutic potential of OECs by stimulating proliferation prior to transplantation.

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Scientific Reports

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Chen, M; Vial, ML; Gee, L; Davis, RA; St John, JA; Ekberg, JAK, The plant natural product 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone stimulates therapeutic neural repair properties of olfactory ensheathing cells, Scientific Reports, 2020, 10 (1), pp. 951:1-951:15