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Anti-inflammatory activity of 4-methoxyhonokiol is a function of the inhibition of iNOS and COX-2 expression in RAW 264.7 macrophages via NF-κB, JNK and p38 MAPK inactivation
4-Methoxyhonokiol, a neolignan compound isolated from the stem bark of Magnolia obovata, was found to exhibit a potent anti-inflammatory effect in different experimental models. Pretreatment with 4-methoxyhonokiol (i.p.) dose-dependently inhibited the dye leakage and paw swelling in an acetic-acid-induced vascular permeability assay and a carrageenan-induced paw edema assay in mice, respectively. In the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced systemic inflammation model, 4-methoxyhonokiol significantly inhibited plasma nitric oxide (NO) release in mice. To identify the mechanisms underlying this anti-inflammatory action, we investigated the effect of 4-methoxyhonokiol on LPS-induced responses in a murine macrophage cell line, RAW 264.7. The results demonstrated that 4-methoxyhonokiol significantly inhibited LPS-induced NO production as well as the protein and mRNA expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase (INOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Furthermore, 4-methoxyhonokiol inhibited LPS-mediated nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation via the prevention of inhibitor κB (IκB) phosphorylation and degradation. 4-Methoxyhonokiol had no effect on the LPS-induced phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), whereas it attenuated the phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) in a concentration-dependent manner. Taken together, our data suggest that 4-methoxyhonokiol is an active anti-inflammatory constituent of the bark of M. obovata, and that its anti-inflammatory property might be a function of the inhibition of iNOS and COX-2 expression via down-regulation of the JNK and p38 MAP kinase signal pathways and inhibition of NF-κB activation in RAW 264.7 macrophages.
Acknowledgement: This work was supported by a grant from the Korea Food and Drug administration for Studies on the Identification of the Efficacy of Biologically Active Components from Oriental Herbal Medicines (2007).