Panax notoginseng saponins suppress lipopolysaccharide-induced barrier disruption and monocyte adhesion on bEnd.3 cells via the opposite modulation of Nrf2 antioxidant and NF-κB inflammatory pathways

Phytother Res. 2019 Dec;33(12):3163-3176. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6488. Epub 2019 Aug 30.


Dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a prerequisite for the pathogenesis of many cerebral diseases. Oxidative stress and inflammation are well-known factors accounting for BBB injury. Panax notoginseng saponins (PNS), a clinical commonly used drug against cerebrovascular disease, possess efficient antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. In the present study, the protective effects of PNS on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-insulted cerebral microvascular endothelial cells (bEnd.3) were assessed and the underlying mechanisms were investigated. The results showed that PNS mitigated the decrease of Trans-Endothelial Electrical Resistance, increase of paracellular permeability, and loss of tight junction proteins in bEnd.3 BBB model. Meanwhile, PNS suppressed the THP-1 monocytes adhesion on bEnd.3 monolayer. Moreover, PNS prevented the pro-inflammatory cytokines secretion and reactive oxygen species generation in bEnd.3 cells stimulated with LPS. Mechanism investigations suggested that PNS promoted the Akt phosphorylation, activated Nrf2 antioxidant signaling, and inhibited the NF-κB activation. All the effects of PNS could be abolished by PI3K inhibition at different levels. Taken together, these observations suggest that PNS may act as an extrinsic regulator that activates Nrf2 antioxidant defense system depending on PI3K/Akt and inhibits NF-κB inflammatory signaling to attenuate LPS-induced BBB disruption and monocytes adhesion on cerebral endothelial cells in vitro.

Keywords: NF-κB inflammatory pathway; Nrf2 antioxidant pathway; Panax notoginseng saponins; blood-brain barrier; monocytes adhesion.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Panax notoginseng / chemistry*
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Saponins / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NF-kappa B
  • Saponins