Heat-stress exposure increased the expression of heat-shock proteins (HSPs), B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) and anti-oxidative enzymes to maintain normal cellular function by attenuating the oxidative reaction and apoptosis. Reducing the stress response or enhancing anti-stress capability is an important goal in animal production. Our previous study indicated a protective role of flavangenol, a pine bark extract, in chicks after three hours of high-temperature exposure. However, the cellular mechanism of flavangenol was not clarified ex vivo. In the current study, we investigated the effect of flavangenol on cellular apoptosis and oxidation in heat-stressed treated chick brain cells (mixed neurons and glia cells). The primary brain cells were isolated from the diencephalon of 14-day-old chicks and cultured at 41.5 °C (to mimic the body temperature of young chicks), and were treated with flavangenol from day 3 of isolation to day 8. Cells were kept bathed in the cell culture dish under a high temperature (HT: 45 °C, 20 or 60 min) on day 8 and were then collected for analysis of cell viability as well as for HSP and other related gene expression. Flavangenol treatment significantly increased cell viability and BCL-2 mRNA expression, and attenuated HSP-70 and BCL-2-associated X protein mRNA expression. Moreover, flavangenol treatment elevated the mRNA expression of glutathione peroxidase in the HT group, which indicates that cellular anti-oxidative ability was strengthened by flavangenol. In conclusion, flavangenol may play a protective role in cells damaged or killed by heat stress by increasing cellular anti-oxidative pathways.
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