Puerarin induces Nrf2 as a cytoprotective mechanism to prevent cadmium-induced autophagy inhibition and NLRP3 inflammasome activation in AML12 hepatic cells.
J Inorg Biochem. 2021 Feb 11 ;217:111389. Epub 2021 Feb 11. PMID: 33607539
Liver is the main target organ of cadmium (Cd) toxicity and puerarin (PU) has been shown to prevent Cd-induced hepatic cell damage via its antioxidant activity. Nrf2 acts as a critical regulator of cellular defense against various oxidative insults, but its role in the protection of PU against Cd-induced hepatic damage has not yet been clarified. Hereby, this study was designed to investigate the underlying mechanism using mouse hepatocyte line AML-12. Data firstly showed that Cd-inhibited Nrf2 pathway was markedly restored by PU treatment, assessed by Nrf2 nuclear translocation, protein levels of Keap1 and Nrf2 downstream target genes. Accordingly, Cd-reduced protein levels of antioxidant enzymes were significantly up-regulated by PU. Next, Nrf2 silencing cellular model was established to further elucidate the role of Nrf2 in the protection of PU against Cd-induced hepatic damage. Attenuation of Cd-induced autophagy inhibition and autophagosome accumulation by PU was remarkably countered by Nrf2 silencing. Moreover, alleviation of Cd-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation by PU was distinctly prevented by Nrf2 knockdown, assessed by protein levels of NLRP3 inflammosome complex and downstream IL-18 and IL-1β production. Collectively, our data suggest that PU restores Cd-induced Nrf2 inhibition to prevent autophagy inhibition and NLRP3 inflammasome activation, providing novel insights into the protection of PU against Cd-induced hepatic cell damage.