Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) has a central role in inflammation and both cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and prostaglandin E synthases are critical enzymes in its synthesis. In inflammation, bacterial products and cytokines enhance the expression of COX-2 and inducible microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1) which are functionally coupled to result in increased PGE2 formation in macrophages and tissue cells. In the present study, we systematically investigated the effects of 26 naturally occurring flavonoids on PGE2 production and on COX-2 and mPGES-1 expression in activated macrophages. Twelve flavonoids, i.e., flavone, luteolin-7-glucoside, kaempferol, isorhamnetin, morin, quercetin, naringenin, taxifolin, pelargonidin, daidzein, genistein, and genistin effectively inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced PGE2 production. Four flavonoids (flavone, isorhamnetin, daidzein, and genistein) inhibited significantly LPS-induced COX-2 expression, while mPGES-1 expression was downregulated by kaempferol and isorhamnetin. The present study characterizes the effects of flavonoids on PGE2 production and on COX-2 and mPGES-1 expression in activated macrophages. The results add to our knowledge of the anti-inflammatory actions of flavonoids and introduce kaempferol and isorhamnetin as compounds capable of downregulating the expression of mPGES-1.
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