Neurochemical Research

, Volume 40, Issue 8, pp 1661–1670 | Cite as

Protective Effect of l-Theanine on Cadmium-Induced Apoptosis in PC12 Cells by Inhibiting the Mitochondria-Mediated Pathway

  • Peiling Ben
  • Zhengping Zhang
  • Chunxia Xuan
  • Shasha Sun
  • Lei Shen
  • Yanhong Gao
  • Xiang Cao
  • Yi Zhou
  • Lei Lan
  • Zhimin YinEmail author
  • Lan LuoEmail author
Original Paper


l-Theanine is an amino acid derivative from green tea. The present work was aimed at the effect of l-theanine on neuron-like rat pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells stimulated with cadmium chloride. Treatment with l-theanine before cadmium exposure increased cell viability; the experiments of Annexin V/PI staining indicated that l-theanine inhibited cadmium-induced cell apoptosis. Meanwhile, l-theanine decreased ROS production and protected from cadmium-induced disruption of mitochondrial transmembrane potential. Compared with cadmium-treated cells, l-theanine could also decrease the ratio of Bax/Bcl-2, as well as the level of cleaved caspase-9, caspase-3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. Furthermore, l-theanine depresses cadmium-induced up regulation of phosphorylations of PI3K/Akt, MAPK ERK1/2, and JNK signaling. These data suggest that l-theanine pretreatment reduces severity of cadmium toxicity probably via antioxidant action. Therefore, it may be concluded that l-theanine could be exploited for prevention of cadmium-induced diseases.


l-Theanine Cadmium Oxidative stress Mitochondria apoptosis pathway Apoptosis 


Amyloid beta


Alzheimer’s disease


Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase


Reactive oxygen species


Superoxide dismutase




Glutathione reductase




Glutathione peroxidase


Mitochondrial membrane potential


2′,7′-Dichlorofluorescein diacetate


NADPH oxidases


Glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase


Mitogen-activated protein kinases


Mammalian target of rapamycin


Extracellular signal regulated kinases


c-Jun N-terminal kinase



This work was supported by Grants from Jiangsu perspective study (BY2013001-03), National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 31401004), and program of Natural Science Research of Jiangsu Higher education Institution of China (No. 14KJB180010).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest


Ethical standard

Follow the established procedures approved by local Ethics Committee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peiling Ben
    • 1
  • Zhengping Zhang
    • 2
  • Chunxia Xuan
    • 1
  • Shasha Sun
    • 1
  • Lei Shen
    • 1
  • Yanhong Gao
    • 1
  • Xiang Cao
    • 1
  • Yi Zhou
    • 1
  • Lei Lan
    • 1
  • Zhimin Yin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lan Luo
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Jiangsu Province Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life ScienceNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Life SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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