Anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, and anti-proliferative effects of a methanolic neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf extract are mediated via modulation of the nuclear factor-κB pathway

Genes Nutr. 2011 May;6(2):149-60. doi: 10.1007/s12263-010-0194-6. Epub 2010 Dec 14.


Azadirachta indica (neem tree) is used in traditional Indian medicine for its pharmacological properties including cancer prevention and treatment. Here, we studied a neem extract's anti-inflammatory potential via the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway, linked to cancer, inflammation, and apoptosis. Cultured human leukemia cells were treated with a methanolic neem leaf extract with or without tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α stimulation. Inhibition of NF-κB activity was demonstrated by luciferase assay and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). Inhibition of viability by neem extracts was assessed by luminescent assays. Western blot analysis allowed assessing the inhibitory effect of the neem extract on TNF-α-induced degradation of inhibitor of κB (IκB) and nuclear translocation of the NF-κB p50/p65 heterodimer. Inhibition of IκB kinase (IKK) activity was shown as well as the effect of neem extract on the induction of apoptotic cell death mechanisms by nuclear fragmentation analysis and flow cytometry analysis. In conclusion, our data provide evidence for a strong effect of the neem extract on pro-inflammatory cell signaling and apoptotic cell death mechanisms, contributing to a better understanding of the mechanisms triggered by Azadirachta indica.