Isoliquiritigenin Activates Nuclear Factor Erythroid-2 Related Factor 2 to Suppress the NOD-Like Receptor Protein 3 Inflammasome and Inhibits the NF-κB Pathway in Macrophages and in Acute Lung Injury.
Front Immunol. 2017 ;8:1518. Epub 2017 Nov 9. PMID: 29163554
Among the cellular response mechanisms, the nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 (Nrf2) pathway is considered a survival pathway that alleviates oxidative injury, while both the NOD-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) and NF-κB pathways are pro-inflammatory pathways that cause damage to cells. These pathways are implicated in the development and resolution of acute lung injury (ALI). Isoliquiritigenin (ISL), a flavonoid from the liquorice compound, is suggested to be a regulator of the above pathways, but the mechanisms of how the NLRP3/NF-κB pathway interacts with Nrf2 and its protective effects in ALI remain unknown. In the present study, ISL inhibited reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and cytotoxicity induced by t-BHP and pro-inflammatory enzymes production induced by LPS in RAW 264.7 cells. Such cytoprotective effects coincided with the induction of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)/Nrf2/antioxidant response element (ARE) signaling and the suppression of the NLRP3 and NF-κB pathways. Consistent with these findings, ISL treatment significantly alleviated lung injury in LPS-induced ALI mice, which was reflected by reductions in histopathological changes, pulmonary edema, and protein leakage. At the same time, the increased levels of inflammatory cell exudation and pro-inflammatory mediators, the enhanced production of ROS, myeloperoxidase, and malondialdehyde, and the depleted expressionof GSH and superoxide dismutase induced by LPS were ameliorated by ISL. Furthermore, ISL notably activated AMPK/Nrf2/ARE signaling and inhibited LPS-induced NLRP3 and NF-κB activation in the lung. Moreover, although inhibition of the LPS-induced histopathological changes and ROS production were attenuated in Nrf2-deficient mice, the repression of the NLRP3 and NF-κB pathways by ISL was Nrf2-dependent and Nrf2-independent, respectively. In conclusion, our results are the first to highlight the beneficial role and relevant mechanisms of ISL in LPS-induced ALI and provide novel insight into itsapplication.