Objectives and design: Microglia play an important role in immune and inflammatory responses in the central nervous system. Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) has been reported as an immune stimulant for various inflammation-associated diseases in vivo. The present study investigated the effects of APS on lipopolysaccharide-stimulated inflammatory responses in microglial cells.
Materials and methods: Cultured BV2 microglial cells were pre-treated with APS (0-200 μg/ml) prior to lipopolysaccharide (50 ng/ml) stimulation. The production of proinflammatory mediators including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS)/nitric oxide (NO), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)/prostaglandin E (PGE2), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) were evaluated.
Results: APS dose-dependently reduced lipopolysaccharide stimulated nitric oxide and PGE2 production, as well as iNOS and cyclooxygenase-2 gene expression. It also attenuated proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α generation. In addition, APS inhibited nuclear factor-κB translocation by blockade of IκB degradation and suppressed protein kinase B phosphorylation in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated cells.
Conclusions: The inhibitory effects of APS on lipopolysaccharide-stimulated inflammatory mediator production in microglia are associated with suppression of nuclear factor-κB and protein kinase B signaling pathways. APS may offer therapeutic potential for treating inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases accompanied with microglial activation.