JOURNAL ARTICLE

Betulinic acid suppresses carcinogen-induced NF-kappa B activation through inhibition of I kappa B alpha kinase and p65 phosphorylation: abrogation of cyclooxygenase-2 and matrix metalloprotease-9

Yasunari Takada, Bharat B Aggarwal
Journal of Immunology 2003 September 15, 171 (6): 3278-86
12960358
Betulinic acid (BA), a pentacyclic triterpene isolated from the bark of the white birch tree, has been reported to be a selective inducer of apoptosis in tumor cells. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. How BA mediates these effects is not known. Because of the critical role of the transcription factor NF-kappaB in growth modulatory, inflammatory, and immune responses, we postulated that BA modulates the activity of this factor. In this study we investigated the effect of BA on NF-kappaB and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression activated by a variety of inflammatory and carcinogenic agents. BA suppressed NF-kappaB activation induced by TNF, PMA, cigarette smoke, okadaic acid, IL-1, and H(2)O(2). The suppression of NF-kappaB activation was not cell-type specific. BA suppressed the activation of IkappaBalpha kinase, thus abrogating the phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaBalpha. We found that BA inhibited NF-kappaB activated by TNFR 1, TNFR-associated death domain, TNFR-associated factor 2, NF-kappaB-inducing kinase, and IkappaBalpha kinase. Treatment of cells with this triterpinoid also suppressed NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression and the production of NF-kappaB-regulated gene products such as cyclooxygenase-2 and matrix metaloproteinase-9 induced by inflammatory stimuli. Furthermore, BA enhanced TNF-induced apoptosis. Overall, our results indicated that BA inhibits activation of NF-kappaB and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression induced by carcinogens and inflammatory stimuli. This may provide a molecular basis for the ability of BA to mediate apoptosis, suppress inflammation, and modulate the immune response.

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