Baicalein ameliorates ischemic brain damage through suppressing proinflammatory microglia polarization via inhibiting the TLR4/NF-κB and STAT1 pathway.
Brain Res. 2021 Nov 1 ;1770:147626. Epub 2021 Aug 19. PMID: 34418356
Microglial polarization mediated neuroinflammation plays an important role in the pathological process of stroke. The aim of this study is to determine whether baicalein indirectly ameliorates neuronal injury through modulating microglial polarization after stroke and if so, then by what mechanism. The effects of baicalein on microglial polarization were revealed through the middle cerebral artery occlusion mouse model (MCAO, n = 6), the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) + interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) induced neuroinflammatory microglia model (BV2, n = 3), respectively. Mice were treated with baicalein (100 mg/kg, i.g.) after reperfusion, and followed by daily administrations for 3 days. Results showed that the infarct volumes at 3 d in vehicle and baicalein-treated MCAO mice were 91.18 ± 4.02% and 55.36 ± 4.10%. Baicalein improved sensorimotor functions (p < 0.01) after MCAO. Real-time PCR revealed that baicalein decreased proinflammatory markers expression (p < 0.05), while elevated the anti-inflammatory markers (p < 0.05) in vivo and in vitro. Both western blot and immunofluorescent staining further confirmed that baicalein reduced proinflammatory marker CD16 levels (p < 0.01) and enhanced anti-inflammatory marker CD206 or Arg-1 levels (p < 0.05). Notably, baicalein suppressed the release of proinflammatory cytokines (p < 0.05) and nitric oxide (NO, p < 0.001). Mechanistically, baicalein prevented increases in TLR4 protein levels (p < 0.001), the phosphorylation of IKBα and p65 (p < 0.01), and the nuclear translocation of NF-κB p65 (p < 0.05). The NF-κB inhibitor, BAY 11-7085, enhanced the inhibitory effect of baicalein on the proinflammatory microglial polarization. Baicalein also inhibited the phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1, p < 0.001). A microglia-neuron co-culture system revealed that baicalein driven neuroprotection against OGD induced neuronal damage through modulating microglial polarization (p < 0.05). Baicalein indirectly ameliorates neuronal injury after stroke by polarizing microglia toward the anti-inflammatory phenotype via inhibition of the TLR4/NF-κB pathway and down-regulation of phosphorylated STAT1, suggesting that baicalein might serve a potential therapy for stroke.