Phytochemical Combination PB125 Activates the Nrf2 Pathway and Induces Cellular Protection against Oxidative Injury

Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 May 3;8(5):119. doi: 10.3390/antiox8050119.


Bioactive phytochemicals in Rosmarinus officinalis, Withania somnifera, and Sophora japonica have a long history of human use to promote health. In this study we examined the cellular effects of a combination of extracts from these plant sources based on specified levels of their carnosol/carnosic acid, withaferin A, and luteolin levels, respectively. Individually, these bioactive compounds have previously been shown to activate the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) transcription factor, which binds to the antioxidant response element (ARE) and regulates the expression of a wide variety of cytoprotective genes. We found that combinations of these three plant extracts act synergistically to activate the Nrf2 pathway, and we identified an optimized combination of the three agents which we named PB125 for use as a dietary supplement. Using microarray, quantitative reverse transcription-PCR, and RNA-seq technologies, we examined the gene expression induced by PB125 in HepG2 (hepatocellular carcinoma) cells, including canonical Nrf2-regulated genes, noncanonical Nrf2-regulated genes, and genes which appear to be regulated by non-Nrf2 mechanisms. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis identified Nrf2 as the primary pathway for gene expression changes by PB125. Pretreatment with PB125 protected cultured HepG2 cells against an oxidative stress challenge caused by cumene hydroperoxide exposure, by both cell viability and cell injury measurements. In summary, PB125 is a phytochemical dietary supplement comprised of extracts of three ingredients, Rosmarinus officinalis, Withania somnifera, and Sophora japonica, with specified levels of carnosol/carnosic acid, withaferin A, and luteolin, respectively. Each ingredient contributes to the activation of the Nrf2 pathway in unique ways, which leads to upregulation of cytoprotective genes and protection of cells against oxidative stress and supports the use of PB125 as a dietary supplement to promote healthy aging.

Keywords: APOL1; BHMT; C9orf72; CBS; CYP1A1; KEAP1; MAT1A; NOS3; Nrf2; PCSK9; VGF; aging; oxidative stress.