Neural crest cells are a temporary group of cells unique to vertebrates that arise from the embryonic ectoderm germ layer, and in turn give rise to a diverse cell lineage—including melanocytes, craniofacial cartilage and bone, smooth muscle, peripheral and enteric neurons and glia.
The neural crest (NC) corresponds to a collection of multipotent and oligopotent progenitors endowed with both neural and mesenchymal potentials. The derivatives of the NC at trunk level include neurons and glial cells of the peripheral nervous system in addition to melanocytes, smooth muscle cells and some endocrine cells. Environmental factors control the fate decisions of NC cells. Despite the well-known influence of flavonoids on the central nervous system, the issue of whether they also influence NC cells has not been yet addressed. Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that are integral components of the human diet.
The biological activities of these compounds cover a very broad spectrum, from anticancer and antibacterial activities to inhibition of bone reabsorption and modulation of inflammatory response. In the present work, we have investigated the actions of the flavonoids hesperidin, rutin and quercetin on NC cells of quail, in vitro. We show for the first time, that hesperidin and rutin increase the viability of trunk NC cells in culture, without affecting cell differentiation and proliferation. The molecular mechanism of this action is dependent on ERK2 and PI3K pathways. Quercetin had no effect on NC progenitors. Taken together, these results suggest that flavonoids hesperidin and rutin increase NC cell survival, which may be useful against the toxicity of some chemicals during embryonic development.