The present study aims to evaluate the involvement of N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor and nitric oxide (NO)/cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) system in antidepressant-like effects of Yueju pill (YJ), a Chinese herbal medicine. The immobility time in tail suspension test (TST) and forced swim test (FST) was used to assess the antidepressant effects. Prior administration of L-arginine (750 mg/kg, intraperitoneal [i.p.]), a NO synthase substrate that enhances NO signaling or sildenafil (5 mg/kg, i.p.), a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor that enhances cGMP, blunted the antidepressant-like activity of YJ (2.7 g/kg, i.g.). Co-treatment of ineffective dose of YJ (1.35 g/kg, i.g.) with one of the reagents that suppress the NO/cGMP signaling, including methylene blue (10 mg/kg, i.p.), an inhibitor of NO synthase; 7-NI (7-nitroinidazole, 30 mg/kg, i.p.), an nNOS specific inhibitor; L-NAME (10 mg/kg, i.p.), a non-specific inhibitor of NO synthase; and MK-801 (0.05 mg/kg, i.p.), an NMDA receptor antagonist, reduced the immobility time in TST and FST, compared with those in vehicle or single drug treatment groups. Neither above drugs alone or co-administrated with YJ affected locomotor activity or anxiety behavior in open field test. Thus, our results suggest that the antidepressant-like action of YJ may depend on the inhibition of NMDA/NO/cGMP pathway.
The existence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is considered as a direct reason for the failure of clinic treatment in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Growing evidences have demonstrated that miRNAs play an important role in regulation of stem cell proliferation, differentiation and self-renewal and their aberrances cause the formation of CSCs and eventually result in carcinogenesis. We recently identified miRNA-148b as one of the miRNAs specifically down-regulated in side population (SP) cells of PLC/PRF/5 cell line. However, it remains elusive how miRNA-148b regulates CSC properties in HCC. In the present study, we observed that overexpression or knockdown of miR-148b through lentiviral transfection could affect the proportion of SP cells as well as CSC-related gene expression in HCC cell lines. In addition, miR-148b blocking could stimulate cell proliferation, enhance chemosensitivity, as well as increase cell metastasis and angiogenesis in vitro . More importantly, miR-148b could significantly suppress tumorigenicity in vivo . Further studies revealed that Neuropilin-1 (NRP1), a transmembrane co-receptor involved in tumour initiation, metastasis and angiogenesis, might be the direct target of miRNA-148b . Taking together, our findings define that miR-148b might play a critical role in maintenance of SP cells with CSC properties by targeting NRP1 in HCC. It is the potential to develop a new strategy specifically targeting hepatic CSCs (HCSCs) through restoration of miR-148b expression in future therapy.