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J Neuroimmunol. 2013 Jan 15;254(1-2):46-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2012.09.004. Epub 2012 Sep 23.

β-Lapachone ameliorization of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, United States.


β-Lapachone is a naturally occurring quinine, originally isolated from the bark of the lapacho tree (Tabebuia avellanedae) which is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. In addition, recent investigations suggest its potential application for treatment of inflammatory diseases. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder characterized by CNS inflammation and demyelination. Reactive T cells including IL-17 and IFN-γ-secreting T cells are believed to initiate MS and the associated animal model system experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). IL-12 family cytokines secreted by peripheral dendritic cells (DCs) and CNS microglia are capable of modulating T-cell phenotypes. The present studies demonstrated that β-lapachone selectively inhibited the expression of IL-12 family cytokines including IL-12 and IL-23 by DCs and microglia, and reduced IL-17 production by CD4(+) T-cells indirectly through suppressing IL-23 expression by microglia. Importantly, our studies also demonstrated that β-lapachone ameliorated the development on EAE. β-Lapachone suppression of EAE was associated with decreased expression of mRNAs encoding IL-12 family cytokines, IL-23R and IL-17RA, and molecules important in Toll-like receptor signaling. Collectively, these studies suggest mechanisms by which β-lapachone suppresses EAE and suggest that β-lapachone may be effective in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as MS.

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