The glycosylated phenylpropanoid verbascoside (VB), isolated from cultured cells of the medicinal plant Syringa vulgaris (Oleaceae), has previously been characterized as an effective scavenger of biologically active free radicals and an inhibitor of lipid peroxidation. The aim of the present study was to evaluate in a rat glioma cell line (C6) the effect of VB biotechnologically produced by S. vulgaris plant cell cultures in the regulation of the inflammatory response. We used a model of central nervous system inflammation induced by bacterial endotoxin/cytokine (lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/interferon (IFN)-gamma, 1 microg/ml and 100 U/ml, respectively). Our results show that the treatment with LPS/IFN-gamma for 24 h elicited the induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) activity as determined by NO(x) accumulation in the culture medium. Preincubation with VB (10-100 microg/ml) abrogated the mixed cytokine-mediated induction of iNOS. The effect was concentration-dependent. Our studies also showed an inhibitory effect of VB on neuronal nitric oxide synthase expression. Moreover, Western blot analysis showed that this glycoside prevents specifically the activation of the proinflammatory enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 in glioma cells without simultaneous inhibition of COX-1 enzyme. Moreover, we found that VB reduced the expression of proinflammatory enzymes in LPS/IFN-gamma through the inhibition of the activation of nuclear factor kappa B and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway. The mechanisms underlying in vitro the neuroprotective properties of VB involve modulation of transcription factors and consequent altered gene expression, resulting in downregulation of inflammation. These findings provide support that VB may provide a promising approach for the treatment of oxidative-stress-related neurodegenerative diseases.