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Biochem Pharmacol. 2005 Nov 15;70(10):1443-57. Epub 2005 Sep 21.

Honokiol inhibits TNF-alpha-stimulated NF-kappaB activation and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression through suppression of IKK activation.

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Bioactive Products Research Group, Department of Biology and Chemistry, City University of Hong Kong, 83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Honokiol, a small molecular weight lignan originally isolated from Magnolia officinalis, shows anti-angiogenic, anti-invasive and anti-proliferative activities in a variety of cancers. In this study, we investigated whether honokiol affects the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) which controls a large number of genes involved in angiogenesis, metastasis and cell survival. We observed that the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-induced NF-kappaB activation was blocked by honokiol in four different cancer cell lines as evidenced by EMSA. Honokiol did not directly affect the NF-kappaB-DNA binding. Immunoblot experiments demonstrated that honokiol inhibited the TNF-alpha-stimulated phosphorylation and degradation of the cytosolic NF-kappaB inhibitor IkappaBalpha. Furthermore, honokiol suppressed the intrinsic and TNF-alpha-stimulated upstream IkappaB kinases (IKKs) activities measured by a non-radioactive kinase assay using immunoprecipitated IKKs, suggesting a critical role of honokiol in abrogating the phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaBalpha. In a HeLa cell NF-kappaB-dependent luciferase reporter system, honokiol suppressed luciferase expression stimulated by TNF-alpha and by the transient transfection and expression of NIK (NF-kappaB-inducing kinase), wild type IKKbeta, constitutively active IKKalpha and IKKbeta, or the p65 subunit. Honokiol was also found to inhibit the nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of p65 subunit of NF-kappaB. RT-PCR results showed that honokiol suppressed NF-kappaB-regulated inflammatory and carcinogenic gene products including MMP-9, TNF-alpha, IL-8, ICAM-1 and MCP-1. In line with the observation that NF-kappaB activation may up-regulate anti-apoptotic genes, it was shown that honokiol enhanced TNF-alpha-induced apoptotic cell death. In summary, our results demonstrate that honokiol suppresses NF-kappaB activation and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression through the inhibition of IKKs, which provides a possible mechanism for its anti-tumor actions.

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