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J Cell Biochem. 2009 May 15;107(2):303-15. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22126.

Mechanistic study of saikosaponin-d (Ssd) on suppression of murine T lymphocyte activation.

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Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong.


Saikosaponin-d (Ssd) is a triterpene saponin derived from the medicinal plant, Bupleurum falcatum L. (Umbelliferae). Previous findings showed that Ssd exhibits a variety of pharmacological and immunomodulatory activities including anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-cancer effects. In the current study we have investigated the effects of Ssd on activated mouse T lymphocytes through the NF-kappaB, NF-AT and AP-1 signaling pathways, cytokine secretion, and IL-2 receptor expression. The results demonstrated that Ssd not only suppressed OKT3/CD28-costimulated human T cell proliferation, it also inhibited PMA, PMA/Ionomycin and Con A-induced mouse T cell activation in vitro. The inhibitory effect of Ssd on PMA-induced T cell activation was associated with down-regulation of NF-kappaB signaling through suppression of IKK and Akt activities. In addition, Ssd suppressed both DNA binding activity and the nuclear translocation of NF-AT and activator protein 1 (AP-1) of the PMA/Ionomycin-stimulated T cells. The cell surface markers like IL-2 receptor (CD25) were also down-regulated together with decreased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines of IL-6, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma. These results indicate that the NF-kappaB, NF-AT and AP-1 (c-Fos) signaling pathways are involved in the T cell inhibition evoked by Ssd, so it can be a potential candidate for further study in treating T cell-mediated autoimmune conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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