Extended inflammation and cytokine production pathogenically contribute to a number of inflammatory disorders. Formosanin C (FC) is the major diosgenin saponin found in herb Paris formosana Hayata (Liliaceae), which has been shown to exert anti-cancer and immunomodulatory functions. In this study, we aimed to investigate anti-inflammatory activity of FC and the underlying molecular mechanism. RAW264.7 macrophages were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or pretreated with FC prior to being stimulated with LPS. Thereafter, the macrophages were subjected to analysis of the expression levels of pro-inflammatory mediators, including nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and IL-6, as well as two relevant enzymes, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). The analysis revealed that FC administration blunted LPS-induced production of NO and PGE in a dose-dependent manner, while the expression of iNOS and COX-2 at both mRNA and protein levels was inhibited in LPS-stimulated macrophages pre-treated with FC. Moreover, LPS stimulation upregulated mRNA expression and medium release of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL- 6, whereas this effect was blocked upon FC pre-administration. Mechanistic studies showed that inhibitory effects of FC on LPS-induced inflammation were associated with a downregulation of IκB kinase, IκB, and p65/NF-κB pathway. Taken together, these data suggest that FC possesses an inflammation-suppressing activity, thus being a potential agent for the treatment of inflammation-associated disorders.
Keywords: Formosanin C, Inflammation, Lipopolysaccharide, Macrophage, NF-kappa B