Capsaicin, a major ingredient of hot pepper, was considered to exhibit an anti-inflammatory property. In order to clarify the signalling mechanism underlying the anti-inflammatory action of capsaicin, we investigated the effect of capsaicin on the production of inflammatory molecules in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated murine peritoneal macrophages. The level of PGE2 was measured by EIA. The expression levels of COX-2, iNOS, IkB-a, and vanilloid receptor-1 (VR-1) were determined at the protein and mRNA levels. Significant inhibition of the production of LPS-induced PGE2 by capsaicin was observed in a dose-dependent manner. Capsaicin did not affect the COX-2 expression at either the protein or mRNA level, but inhibited the enzyme activity of COX-2 and the expression of the iNOS protein. Capsaicin completely blocked LPS-induced disappearance of IkB-a and therefore inactivated NF-kB. The inhibitory action of capsaicin on PGE2 production was not abolished by capsazepine, a specific antagonist to VR-1. A high expression level of the VR-1 like protein (VRL-1) was observed in peritoneal macrophages, while the expression of VR-1 was not detected. These findings suggest that the anti-inflammatory action of capsaicin may occur through a novel mechanism, not by a VR-1 receptor-mediated one. Both capsaicin and capsazepine may be a promising drug candidates for ameliorating inflammatory diseases and cancer.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Inc.