Microglial activation plays an important role in neuroinflammation, which contributes to neuronal damage, and inhibition of microglial activation may have therapeutic benefits that could alleviate the progression of neurodegeneration. Recent studies have indicated that the antimalarial agent artemisinin has the ability to inhibit NF-kappaB activation. In this study, the inhibitory effects of artemisinin on the production of proinflammatory mediators were investigated in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated primary microglia. Our results show that artemisinin significantly inhibited LPS-induced production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-6 (IL-6), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and nitric oxide (NO). Artemisinin significantly decreased both the mRNA and the protein levels of these pro-inflammatory cytokines and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and increased the protein levels of IkappaB-alpha, which forms a cytoplasmic inactive complex with the p65-p50 heterodimeric complex. Artemisinin treatment significantly inhibited basal and LPS-induced migration of BV-2 microglia. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed increased NF-kappaB binding activity in LPS-stimulated primary microglia, and this increase could be prevented by artemisinin. The inhibitory effects of artemisinin on LPS-stimulated microglia were blocked after IkappaB-alpha was silenced with IkappaB-alpha siRNA. Our results suggest that artemisinin is able to inhibit neuroinflammation by interfering with NF-kappaB signaling. The data provide direct evidence of the potential application of artemisinin for the treatment of neuroinflammatory diseases.
Zhu, C., Xiong, Z., Chen, X., Peng, F., Hu, X., Chen, Y., & Wang, Q. (2012). Artemisinin attenuates lipopolysaccharide-stimulated proinflammatory responses by inhibiting NF-κB pathway in microglia cells. PLoS ONE, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0035125