Inflammation is a major root of several diseases such as allergy, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and several others, and the present state of existing drugs provoked researchers to search for new treatment strategies. Plants are regarded to be unique sources of active compounds holding pharmacological properties, and they offer novel designs in the development of therapeutic agents. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the anti-inflammatory mechanism of esculetin in lipoteichoic acid (LTA)-induced macrophage cells (RAW 264.7). The relative expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), nitric oxide (NO) production and COX-2 expression were intensified in LTA-induced RAW cells. The phosphorylation status of mitogen-activated protein kinases (extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2, p38 MAPK, and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)) and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) p65 were detected by using Western blot assay. The nuclear translocation of p65 was assessed by confocal microscopic image analysis. Esculetin significantly and concentration-dependently inhibited LTA-induced NO production and iNOS expression, but not COX-2 expression, in RAW cells. Esculetin was not effective in LTA-induced MAPK molecules (ERK, p38 and JNK). However, esculetin recovered LTA-induced IκBα degradation and NF-κB p65 phosphorylation. Moreover, esculetin at a higher concentration of 20 µM evidently inhibited the nuclear translocation of NF-κB p65. At the same high concentration, esculetin augmented Nrf2 expression and decreased DPPH radical generation in RAW 264.7 cells. This study exhibits the value of esculetin for the treatment of LTA-induced inflammation by targeting NF-κB signaling pathways via its antioxidant properties.
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