Agmatine Reduces Lipopolysaccharide-Mediated Oxidant Response via Activating PI3K/Akt Pathway and Up-Regulating Nrf2 and HO-1 Expression in Macrophages

PLoS One. 2016 Sep 29;11(9):e0163634. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0163634. eCollection 2016.


Macrophages are key responders of inflammation and are closely related with oxidative stress. Activated macrophages can enhance oxygen depletion, which causes an overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and leads to further excessive inflammatory response and tissue damage. Agmatine, an endogenous metabolite of L-arginine, has recently been shown to have neuroprotective effects based on its antioxidant properties. However, the antioxidant effects of agmatine in peripheral tissues and cells, especially macrophages, remain unclear. In this study we explored the role of agmatine in mediating antioxidant effects in RAW 264.7 cells and studied its antioxidant mechanism. Our data demonstrate that agmatine is an activator of Nrf2 signaling that markedly enhances Nrf2 nuclear translocation, increases nuclear Nrf2 protein level, up-regulates the expression of the Nrf2 downstream effector HO-1, and attenuates ROS generation induced by Lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We further demonstrated that the agmatine-induced activation of Nrf2 is likely through the PI3K/Akt pathway. LY294002, a specific PI3K/Akt inhibitor, abolished agmatine-induced HO-1 up-regulation and ROS suppression significantly. Inhibiting HO-1 pathway significantly attenuated the antioxidant effect of agmatine which the products of HO-1 enzymatic activity contributed to. Furthermore, the common membrane receptors of agmatine were evaluated, revealing that α2-adrenoceptor, I1-imidazoline receptor or I2-imidazoline receptor are not required by the antioxidant properties of agmatine. Taken together, our findings revealed that agmatine has antioxidant activity against LPS-induced ROS accumulation in RAW 264.7 cells involving HO-1 expression induced by Nrf2 via PI3K/Akt pathway activation.

Grant support

The Grant of National Key Basic Research and Development Plan of China (973 project) (2012CB518102), Huaping Liang; the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81471863), Jun Yan; the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81671906), Huaping Liang.