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Free Radical Biology and Medicine


Background: Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in childhood. However, classical antiepileptic drugs are linked with drug toxicity and cognitive function impairment in children. Hence, it is essential to develop a novel therapy to solve this problem. Currently, studies indicate regulating the nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)-mediated ferroptosis pathway represents a potential advanced therapy for seizures. Hence, the present study aimed to explore whether quercetin, a natural polyphenol, could alleviate seizure-induced neuron death and preserve cognitive function by inhibiting Nrf2-mediated ferroptosis.

Methods: Kainic acid-induced epileptic mice model, morris water maze (MWM) test, cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) assays, western blotting analysis, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, flow cytometry, quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR), immunofluorescence staining, and RNA sequencing analysis were employed to explore the potential mechanisms by which quercetin exerts protective effects on seizure-induced neuron death in kainic acid-induced epileptic mice model and glutamate-induced HT22 neuronal cell death.

Results: Our findings suggested the association between the Nrf2-mediated ferroptosis pathway and seizures in a clinical setting. Quercetin pretreatment alleviates seizure-like behaviors and cognitive impairment in KA-induced epileptic mice. Additionally, in vitro, co-treatment with quercetin effectively exerts neuroprotective effects in glutamate-induced HT22 neuronal cell death. These protective effects were also closely linked to regulating the Nrf2-mediated ferroptosis pathway. Furthermore, bioinformatic profiling revealed that the SIRT1/Nrf2/SLC7A11/GPX4 pathway plays a crucial role in the Glu-induced HT22 cell death pretreated with quercetin.

Conclusions: These findings indicated that quercetin effectively protects against seizure-induced neuron death in vivo and in vitro and alleviates cognitive function impairment via the SIRT1/Nrf2/SLC7A11/GPX4 pathway.



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Cognitive function, Ferroptosis, GPX4, Neuroprotective, Nrf2, Quercetin, SIRT1