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Br J Pharmacol. 2001 Jun;133(4):503-12.

Ergolide, sesquiterpene lactone from Inula britannica, inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclo-oxygenase-2 expression in RAW 264.7 macrophages through the inactivation of NF-kappaB.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon 440-746, Korea.


We investigated the mechanism of suppression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) by ergolide, sesquiterpene lactone from Inula britannica. iNOS activity in cell-free extract of LPS/IFN-gamma-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages was markedly attenuated by the treatment with ergolide. Its inhibitory effect on iNOS was paralleled by decrease in nitrite accumulation in culture medium of LPS/IFN-gamma-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages in a concentration-dependent manner. However, its inhibitory effect does not result from direct inhibition of the catalytic activity of NOS. Ergolide markedly decreased the production of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) in cell-free extract of LPS/IFN-gamma-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages in a concentration-dependent manner, without alteration of the catalytic activity of COX-2 itself. Ergolide decreased the level of iNOS and COX-2 protein, and iNOS mRNA caused by stimulation of LPS/IFN-gamma in a concentration-dependent manner, as measured by Western blot and Northern blot analysis, respectively. Ergolide inhibited nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation, a transcription factor necessary for iNOS and COX-2 expression in response to LPS/IFN-gamma. This effect was accompanied by the parallel reduction of nuclear translocation of subunit p65 of NF-kappaB as well as IkappaB-alpha degradation. In addition, these effects were completely blocked by treatment of cysteine, indicating that this inhibitory effect of ergolide could be mediated by alkylation of NF-kappaB itself or an upstream molecule of NF-kappaB. Ergolide also directly inhibited the DNA-binding activity of active NF-kappaB in LPS/IFN-gamma-pretreated RAW 264.7 macrophages. These results demonstrate that the suppression of NF-kappaB activation by ergolide might be attributed to the inhibition of nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB resulted from blockade of the degradation of IkappaB and the direct modification of active NF-kappaB, leading to the suppression of the expression of iNOS and COX-2, which play important roles in inflammatory signalling pathway.

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