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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Glycyrrhetinic acid inhibits ICAM-1 expression via blocking JNK and NF-kappaB pathways in TNF-alpha-activated endothelial cells

Ying-ling Chang, Chien-lin Chen, Chao-Lin Kuo, Bor-chyuan Chen, Jyh-sheng You
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 2010, 31 (5): 546-53
20418897

AIM: To investigate the effects of glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), an active component extracted from the root of Glycyrrhizae glabra, on the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) in tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-activated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC).

METHODS: ICAM-1 mRNA and protein levels were detected using RT-PCR and cell enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The adherence of human monocytic THP-1 cells labeled with [(3)H]thymidine to HUVEC was determined by counting radioactivity with a scintillation counter. The activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases as well as the degradation of I kappaB and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) or phospho-c-Jun in the nucleus were detected by western blots. NF-kappaB binding activity was detected using electrophoretic mobility shift assay.

RESULTS: GA (50 and 100 micromol/L) significantly inhibits TNF-alpha-induced ICAM-1 mRNA and protein expressions, as well as THP-1 cell adhesiveness in HUVEC. GA selectively inhibited TNF-alpha-activated signal pathway of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), without affecting extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and p38. Furthermore, GA apparently inhibited I kappaB/NF-kappaB signaling system by preventing I kappaB degradation, NF-kappaB translocation, and NF-kappaB/DNA binding activity. Finally, pretreatment with GA or the inhibitors of NF-kappaB, JNK, and p38 reduced the ICAM-1 protein expression induced by TNF-alpha.

CONCLUSION: GA inhibits TNF-alpha-stimulated ICAM-1 expression, leading to a decrease in adherent monocytes to HUVEC. This inhibition is attributed to GA interruption of both JNK/c-Jun and I kappaB/NF-kappaB signaling pathways, which decrease activator protein-1 (AP-1) and NF-kappaB mediated ICAM-1 expressions. The results suggest that GA may provide a beneficial effect in treating vascular diseases associated with inflammation, such as atherosclerosis.

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