Background: Polygonum viviparum L. (PV) is a member of the family Polygonaceae and is widely distributed in high-elevation areas. It is used as a folk remedy to treat inflammation-related diseases. This study was focused on the anti-inflammatory response of PV against lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation in RAW264.7 macrophages. Results: Treatment with PV did not cause cytotoxicity at 0-50 μg mL-1 in RAW264.7 macrophages, and the IC50 value was 270 μg mL-1. PV inhibited LPS-stimulated nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin (PG)E2, interleukin (IL)-1β and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α release and inducible NO synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 protein expression. In addition, PV suppressed the LPS-induced p65 expression of nuclear factor (NF)-κB, which is associated with the inhibition of IκB-α degradation. These results suggest that, among mechanisms of the anti-inflammatory response, PV inhibits the production of NO and these cytokines by down-regulating iNOS and COX-2 gene expression. Furthermore, PV can induce haem oxygenase (HO)-1 protein expression through nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) activation. A specific inhibitor of HO-1, zinc(II) protoporphyrin IX, inhibited the suppression of iNOS and COX-2 expression by PV. Conclusion: These results suggest that PV possesses anti-inflammatory actions in macrophages and works through a novel mechanism involving Nrf2 actions and HO-1. Thus PV could be considered for application as a potential therapeutic approach for inflammation-associated disorders.
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