Hispolon (HIS) is an active polyphenol compound derived from Phellinus linteus (Berkeley & Curtis), and our previous study showed that HIS effectively inhibited inflammatory responses in macrophages [Yang, L.Y., S.C. Shen, K.T. Cheng, G.V. Subbaraju, C.C. Chien and Y.C. Chen. Hispolon inhibition of inflammatory apoptosis through reduction of iNOS/NO production via HO-1 induction in macrophages. J. Ethnopharmacol. 156: 61-72, 2014]; however, its effect on neuronal inflammation is still undefined. In this study, HIS concentration- and time-dependently inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)- and lipoteichoic acid (LTA)-induced inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase (iNOS)/NO production with increased heme oxygenase (HO)-1 proteins in BV-2 microglial cells. Accordingly, HIS protected BV-2 cells from LPS- or LTA-induced apoptosis, characterized by decreased DNA ladder formation, and caspase-3 and poly(ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP) protein cleavage in BV-2 cells. Similarly, the NOS inhibitor, N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (NAME), inhibited LPS- or LTA-induced apoptosis of BV-2 cells, but neither NAME nor HIS showed any inhibition of NO production or cell death induced by the NO donor, sodium nitroprusside (SNP), indicating the involvement of NO in the inflammatory apoptosis of microglial cells. Activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and nuclear factor (NF)-κB contributed to LPS- or LTA-induced iNOS/NO production and apoptosis of BV-2 cells, and that was suppressed by HIS. Additionally, HIS possesses activity to induce HO-1 protein expression via activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in BV-2 cells, and application of the HO inhibitor, tin protoporphyrin (SnPP), or knockdown of HO-1 protein by HO-1 small interfering (si)RNA significantly reversed HIS inhibition of NO production and cell death in BV-2 cells stimulated by LPS. Results of an analysis of the effects of HIS and two structurally related chemicals, i.e. dehydroxy-HIS (D-HIS) and HIS-methyl ester (HIS-ME), showed that HIS expressed the most potent inhibitory effects on iNOS/NO production, JNK activation, and apoptosis in BV-2 microglial cells activated by LPS with increased HO-1 protein expression. Overall these results suggested that HIS possesses inhibitory activity against LPS- or LTA-induced inflammatory responses including iNOS/NO production and apoptosis in BV-2 microglial cells and that the mechanisms involve upregulation of the HO-1 protein and downregulation of JNK/NF-κB activation. A critical role of hydroxyl at position C3 in the anti-inflammatory actions of HIS against activated BV-2 microglial cells was suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1649-1666
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Chinese Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Apoptosis
  • Heme Oxygenase-1
  • Hispolon
  • Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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