Monocytes expressing toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) play a major role in regulating the innate immune response and are involved in systemic inflammation. Previous studies have shown that Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) may act as a therapeutic agent for some cardiovascular and neurological disorders. The objective of this study was to determine whether GBE could modulate immunity in human cells. The monocytic cell line THP-1 was used. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay results showed that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induces the expression of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MIP-1), tumor necrosis factor-α, stromal cell-derived factor-1, and MIP-1α, and this induction may be repressed by GBE treatment due to TLR4 blockade. The Griess reagent assay and western blot analysis showed that GBE-mediated inhibition of TLR4 expression was associated with the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and production of nitric oxide (NO). Actinomycin D chase experiments demonstrated that GBE decreased the TLR4 mRNA stability in cells. Confocal microscopy and real-time polymerase chain reaction showed that GBE induced the expression of intracellular tristetraprolin (TTP). Transfection with TTP siRNA reversed the effects of GBE in naïve or TLR4-overexpressing cells. Treatment with SNAP (an NO donor) may increase intracellular TTP expression in cells. Immunoprecipitation analysis showed that GBE mediates TTP activation and increases the interaction of TTP with the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of TLR4 mRNA by regulating NO production. Our findings indicate that GBE could decrease the sensitivity of monocytes to LPS. Utilizing TTP to control TLR4 expression may be a promising approach for controlling systemic inflammation, and GBE may have potential applications in the clinical treatment of immune diseases.
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