Tangeretin suppresses IL-1beta-induced cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 expression through inhibition of p38 MAPK, JNK, and AKT activation in human lung carcinoma cells

Biochem Pharmacol. 2007 Jan 15;73(2):215-27. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2006.09.018. Epub 2006 Sep 22.


Tangeretin (5,6,7,8,4'-pentamethoxyflavone) is a polymethoxylated flavonoid concentrated in the peel of citrus fruits. Recent studies have shown that tangeretin exhibits anti-proliferative, anti-invasive, anti-metastatic, and antioxidant activities. However, the anti-inflammatory properties of tangeretin are unclear. In this study, we examine the effects of tangeretin and its structure-related compound, nobiletin, on the expression of cyclooxygenases-2 (COX-2) in human lung epithelial carcinoma cells, A549, and human non-small cell lung carcinoma cells, H1299. Tangeretin exerts a much better inhibitory activity than nobiletin against IL-1beta-induced production of COX-2 in A549 cells, and it effectively represses the constitutively expressed COX-2 in H1299. RT-PCR was used to investigate the transcriptional inhibition of COX-2 by tangeretin. COX-2 mRNA was rapidly induced by IL-1beta in 3h and markedly suppressed by tangeretin. IL-1beta-induced the activation of ERK, p38 MAPK, JNK, and AKT in A549 cells. COX-2 expression in response to IL-1beta was attenuated by pretreatment with SB203580, SP600125, and LY294002, but not with PD98059, suggesting the involvement of p38 MAPK, JNK, and PI3K in this response. Pretreatment of cells with tangeretin inhibited IL-1beta-induced p38 MAPK, JNK, and AKT phosphorylation and the downstream activation of NF-kappaB. These results may reveal that the tangeretin inhibition of IL-1beta-induced COX-2 expression in A549 cells is, at least in part, mediated through suppression of NF-kappaB transcription factor as well as through suppression of the signaling proteins of p38 MAPK, JNK, and PI3K, but not of ERK.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism*
  • DNA Primers
  • Flavones / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA Primers
  • Flavones
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • tangeretin