Licocoumarone isolated from Glycyrrhiza uralensis selectively alters LPS-induced inflammatory responses in RAW 264.7 macrophages

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The effects of licocoumarone (LC) isolated from Glycyrrhiza uralensis were studied in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Our study demonstrated that LC dose-dependently attenuated LPS-induced NO production by down-regulating iNOS expression. Additionally, the treatment with LC inhibited LPS-induced expression of cytokines including IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-10, but not TNF-α, at both mRNA and protein levels. Similar suppressive effects of LC were observed on LPS-stimulated murine peritoneal macrophages as well. Furthermore, LC significantly reduced LPS-stimulated NF-κB activation by inhibition of IκBα degradation and p65 phosphorylation. The results from NF-κB-luc reporter gene assay further support the inhibitory effect of LC on NF-κB activation. Further studies showed that LC also interfered with the MAPKs and STAT3 signaling pathways, which are typical inflammatory signaling pathways triggered by LPS. Taken together, these results show that LC attenuates LPS-induced cytokine gene expression in RAW 264.7 macrophages through mechanisms that involve NF-κB, MAPKs and STAT3 signaling pathways, but the pattern of inhibition differs from that of a global immunosuppresant. Our study indicates that LC is a functional constituent of Glycyrrhiza uralensis with potential implications in infectious and immune-related diseases.

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