Background: Arctium lappa (Niubang), a Chinese herbal medicine, is used to treat tissue inflammation. This study investigates the effects of arctigenin (AC), isolated from A. lappa, on anti-CD3/CD28 Ab-stimulated cell proliferation and cytokine gene expression in primary human T lymphocytes.Methods: Cell proliferation was determined with enzyme immunoassays and the tritiated thymidine uptake method. Cytokine production and gene expression were analyzed with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.Results: AC inhibited primary human T lymphocytes proliferation activated by anti-CD3/CD28 Ab. Cell viability test indicated that the inhibitory effects of AC on primary human T lymphocyte proliferation were not due to direct cytotoxicity. AC suppressed interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production in a concentration-dependent manner. Furthermore, AC decreased the IL-2 and IFN-γ gene expression in primary human T lymphocytes induced by anti-CD3/CD28 Ab. Reporter gene analyses revealed that AC decreased NF-AT-mediated reporter gene expression.Conclusion: AC inhibited T lymphocyte proliferation and decreased the gene expression of IL-2, IFN-γ and NF-AT.
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