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BMC Res Notes. 2013 Jul 16;6:275. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-6-275.

Quercetin suppresses inflammation by reducing ERK1/2 phosphorylation and NF kappa B activation in Leptin-induced Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVECs).



High concentrations of plasma leptin and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in leptin-resistance in obesity have been reported to trigger endothelial dysfunction. The objective of this study was to elucidate the role of quercetin in modulating leptin-induced inflammation as assessed by the levels of Ob-Ra expression, ERK1/2 phosphorylation, NF-kappa B activation and TNF-alpha secretion in umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in vitro.


HUVECs were exposed to either control levels (0 ng/ml) or 500 ng/mL leptin (L) for 48 hours, followed by control or 125 uM quercetin (Q) for another 6 h. The experimental groups were as follows: L0Q0, L0Q125, L500Q0, L500Q125. The presence of the short chain leptin receptor isoform Ob-Ra in HUVECs was determined by Western blot and immunocytochemistry analyses. Ob-Ra expression, ERK1/2 phosphorylation, NF-kappa B activation and TNF-alpha secretion were quantified by ELISA, and NF-kappa B activationby immunofluorescence staining. Our results showed that Ob-Ra expression, ERK1/2 phosphorylation and NF-kappa B activation increased significantly after 500 ng/mL leptin exposure (1.8x, 1.5x, 6.2x for Ob-Ra, ERK1/2 and NF-kappa B, respectively), but were reduced by addition of 125 uM quercetin (0.7x, 0.3x and 0.4x for Ob-Ra, ERK1/2 and NF-kappa B, respectively), and that quercetin could also partially suppress leptin-induced TNF-alpha secretion (3.8x) by 0.8x.


Exposure of HUVECs to leptin up-regulated Ob-Ra expression and elevated ERK1/2 phosphorylation and NFkB activation, and increased TNF-alpha secretion. These effects strongly suppressed by quercetin, with the exception of TNF-alpha which was partially suppressed. The findings might be of clinical significance, as endothelial dysfunction that could lead to cardiovascular disease is preventable, and quercetin is a natural compound found in various plants and fruits.

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