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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Sep;338(3):1013-22. doi: 10.1124/jpet.111.179200. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Luteolin, a novel natural inhibitor of tumor progression locus 2 serine/threonine kinase, inhibits tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced cyclooxygenase-2 expression in JB6 mouse epidermis cells.

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  • 1World Class University Biomodulation Program, Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Center for Agricultural Biomaterials and Research Institute for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Targeting tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-mediated signal pathways may be a promising strategy for developing chemopreventive agents, because TNF-α-mediated cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 expression plays a key role in inflammation and carcinogenesis. Luteolin [2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-5,7-dihydroxy-4-chromenone] exerts anticarcinogenic effects, although little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms and specific targets of this compound. In the present study, we found that luteolin inhibited TNF-α-induced COX-2 expression by down-regulating the transactivation of nuclear factor-κB and activator protein-1. Furthermore, luteolin inhibited TNF-α-induced phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase 1/ERK/p90(RSK), mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4/c-Jun N-terminal kinase/c-Jun, and Akt/p70(S6K). However, it had no effect on the phosphorylation of p38. These effects of luteolin on TNF-α-mediated signaling pathways and COX-2 expression are similar to those achieved by blocking tumor progression locus 2 serine/threonine kinase (TPL2) using pharmacologic inhibitors and small interfering RNAs. Luteolin inhibited TPL2 activity in vitro and in TPL2 immunoprecipitation kinase assays by binding directly in an ATP-competitive manner. Overall, these results indicate that luteolin exerts potent chemopreventive activities, which primarily target TPL2.

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