Costunolide Plays an Anti-Neuroinflammation Role in Lipopolysaccharide-Induced BV2 Microglial Activation by Targeting Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2

Molecules. 2020 Jun 19;25(12):2840. doi: 10.3390/molecules25122840.


Hyperactivation of microglia in the brain is closely related to neuroinflammation and leads to neuronal dysfunction. Costunolide (CTL) is a natural sesquiterpene lactone with wide pharmacological activities including anti-inflammation and antioxidation. In this study, we found that CTL significantly inhibited the production of inflammatory mediators including nitric oxide, IL-6, TNF-α, and PGE2 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated BV2 microglia. Moreover, CTL effectively attenuated IKKβ/NF-κB signaling pathway activation. To identify direct cellular target of CTL, we performed high-throughput reverse virtual screening assay using scPDB protein structure library, and found cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) was the most specific binding protein for CTL. We further confirmed the binding ability of CTL with CDK2 using cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA) and drug affinity responsive target stability (DARTS) assays. Surface plasmon resonance analysis also supported that CTL specifically bound to CDK2 with a dissociation constant at micromole level. Furthermore, knocking down CDK2 obviously reversed the anti-inflammation effect of CTL via AKT/IKKβ/NF-κB signaling pathway on BV-2 cells. Collectively, these results indicate that CTL inhibits microglia-mediated neuroinflammation through directly targeting CDK2, and provide insights into the role of CDK2 as a promising anti-neuroinflammation therapeutic target.

Keywords: CDK2; anti-neuroinflammation; costunolide; natural product; target identification.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2 / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / enzymology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Microglia / enzymology*
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • costunolide
  • Cdk2 protein, mouse
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2