Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) have been used to treat human diseases for thousands of years. Among them, Ginkgo biloba is reported to be beneficial to the nervous system and a potential treatment of neurological disorders. Since the presence of adult neural stem cells (NSCs) brings hope that the brain may heal itself, whether the effect of Ginkgo biloba is on NSCs remains elusive. In this study, we found that Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) and one of its main ingredients, ginkgolide B (GB) promoted cell cycle exit and neuronal differentiation in NSCs derived from the postnatal subventricular zone (SVZ) of the mouse lateral ventricle. Furthermore, the administration of GB increased the nuclear level of β-catenin and activated the canonical Wnt pathway. Knockdown of β-catenin blocked the neurogenic effect of GB, suggesting that GB promotes neuronal differentiation through the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Thus, our data provide a potential mechanism underlying the therapeutic effect of GBE or GB on brain injuries and neurodegenerative disorders.
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