Background: Ginkgo biloba has been reported to possess free radical-scavenging antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory properties. In our pilot study, YY-1224, a terpene trilactone-strengthened extract of G. biloba, showed anti-inflammatory, neurotrophic, and antioxidant effects. Results: We investigated the pharmacological potential of YY-1224 in β-amyloid (Aβ) (1-42)-induced memory impairment using cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) knockout (-/-) and APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic (APP/PS1 Tg) mice. Repeated treatment with YY-1224 significantly attenuated Aβ (1-42)-induced memory impairment in COX-2 (+/+) mice, but not in COX-2 (-/-) mice. YY-1224 significantly attenuated Aβ (1-42)-induced upregulation of platelet-activating factor (PAF) receptor gene expression, reactive oxygen species, and pro-inflammatory factors. In addition, YY-1224 significantly inhibited Aβ (1-42)-induced downregulation of PAF-acetylhydrolase-1 (PAF-AH-1) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) gene expression. These changes were more pronounced in COX-2 (+/+) mice than in COX-2 (-/-) mice. YY-1224 significantly attenuated learning impairment, Aβ deposition, and pro-inflammatory microglial activation in APP/PS1 Tg mice, whereas it significantly enhanced PAF-AH and PPARγ expression. A preferential COX-2 inhibitor, meloxicam, did not affect the pharmacological activity by YY-1224, suggesting that the COX-2 gene is a critical mediator of the neuroprotective effects of YY-1224. The protective activity of YY-1224 appeared to be more efficacious than a standard G. biloba extract (Gb) against Aβ insult. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the protective effects of YY-1224 against Aβ toxicity may be associated with its PAF antagonistic- and PPARγ agonistic-potential as well as inhibition of the Aβ-mediated pro-inflammatory switch of microglia phenotypes through suppression of COX-2 expression.
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