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Toxicol Res. 2015 Mar;31(1):11-6. doi: 10.5487/TR.2015.31.1.011.

Gambogic Acid Disrupts Toll-like Receptor4 Activation by Blocking Lipopolysaccharides Binding to Myeloid Differentiation Factor 2.

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Integrated Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, The Catholic University of Korea, Bucheon, Korea.
Pharmacology Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Daejeon, Korea.


Our body's immune system has defense mechanisms against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. Immune responses are primarily initiated by the activation of toll-like receptors (TLRs). In particular, TLR4 is well-characterized and is known to be activated by gram-negative bacteria and tissue damage signals. TLR4 requires myeloid differentiation factor 2 (MD2) as a co-receptor to recognize its ligand, lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which is an extracellular membrane component of gram-negative bacteria. Gambogic acid is a xanthonoid isolated from brownish or orange resin extracted from Garcinia hanburyi. Its primary effect is tumor suppression. Since inflammatory responses are related to the development of cancer, we hypothesized that gambogic acid may regulate TLR4 activation. Our results demonstrated that gambogic acid decreased the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-12, and IL-1β) in both mRNA and protein levels in bone marrow-derived primary macrophages after stimulation with LPS. Gambogic acid did not inhibit the activation of Interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) induced by TBK1 overexpression in a luciferase reporter gene assay using IFN-β-PRD III-I-luc. An in vitro kinase assay using recombinant TBK1 revealed that gambogic acid did not directly inhibit TBK1 kinase activity, and instead suppressed the binding of LPS to MD2, as determined by an in vitro binding assay and confocal microscopy analysis. Together, our results demonstrate that gambogic acid disrupts LPS interaction with the TLR4/MD2 complex, the novel mechanism by which it suppresses TLR4 activation.


Bacterial infection; Immune-suppression; LPS; MD2; Phytochemical; Toll-like receptor

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