Objective: Leonurine, a bioactive alkaloid compound in Herba leonuri, has various pharmacological activities, including antioxidant and anti-apoptotic capacities. This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that leonurine was able to attenuate tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-induced human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) activation and the underlying molecular mechanisms.
Methods: Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) activation, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation, and inflammatory mediators expression were detected by Western blot or enzyme-liked immunosorbent assay, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and NF-κB p65 translocation were measured by immunofluorescence, endothelial cell-monocyte interaction was detected by microscope.
Results: Leonurine inhibited U937 cells adhesion to TNF-α-activated HUVEC in a concentration dependent manner. Treatment with leonurine blocked TNF-α-induced mRNA and protein expression of adhesion molecules (intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1), cyclooxygenase-2, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in endothelial cells. In addition, leonurine attenuated TNF-α-induced intracellular ROS production in HUVEC. Furthermore, leonurine also suppressed the TNF-α-activated p38 phosphorylation and IκBα degradation. Subsequently, reduced NF-κB p65 phosphorylation, nuclear translocation, and DNA-binding activity were also observed.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrated for the first time that the anti-inflammatory properties of leonurine in endothelial cells, at least in part, through suppression of NF-κB activation, which may have a potential therapeutic use for inflammatory vascular diseases.
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