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J Immunol. 2007 Nov 15;179(10):7121-7.

Apigenin blocks lipopolysaccharide-induced lethality in vivo and proinflammatory cytokines expression by inactivating NF-kappaB through the suppression of p65 phosphorylation.

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Heart and Lung Research Institute, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


LPS stimulates monocytes/macrophages through the activation of signaling events that modulate the production of inflammatory cytokines. Apigenin, a flavonoid abundantly found in fruits and vegetables, exhibits anti-proliferative and anti-inflammatory activities through poorly defined mechanisms. In this study, we demonstrate that apigenin inhibits the production of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1beta, IL-8, and TNF in LPS-stimulated human monocytes and mouse macrophages. The inhibitory effect on proinflammatory cytokine production persists even when apigenin is administered after LPS stimulation. Transient transfection experiments using NF-kappaB reporter constructs indicated that apigenin inhibits the transcriptional activity of NF-kappaB in LPS-stimulated mouse macrophages. The classical proteasome-dependent degradation of the NF-kappaB inhibitor IkappaBalpha was observed in apigenin LPS-stimulated human monocytes. Using EMSA, we found that apigenin does not alter NF-kappaB-DNA binding activity in human monocytes. Instead we show that apigenin, as part of a non-canonical pathway, regulates NF-kappaB activity through hypophosphorylation of Ser536 in the p65 subunit and the inactivation of the IKK complex stimulated by LPS. The decreased phosphorylation on Ser536 observed in LPS-stimulated mouse macrophages treated with apigenin was overcome by the over-expression of IKKbeta. In addition, our studies indicate that apigenin inhibits in vivo LPS-induced TNF and the mortality induced by lethal doses of LPS. Collectively, these findings suggest a molecular mechanism by which apigenin suppresses inflammation and modulates the immune response in vivo.

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