Anti-inflammatory mechanism of compound K in activated microglia and its neuroprotective effect on experimental stroke in mice

Jin Sun Park, Jin A. Shin, Ji Sun Jung, Jin Won Hyun, Thi Kim Van Le, Dong Hyun Kim, Eun Mi Park, Hee Sun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Microglial activation plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of various neurologic disorders, such as cerebral ischemia, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Thus, controlling microglial activation is a promising therapeutic strategy for such brain diseases. In the present study, we found that a ginseng saponin metabolite, compound K [20-O-D-glucopyranosyl- 20(S)-protopanaxadiol], inhibited the expressions of inducible nitric-oxide synthase, proinflammatory cytokines, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, matrix metalloproteinase-3, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)- stimulated BV2 microglial cells and primary cultured microglia. Subsequent mechanistic studies revealed that compound K suppressed microglial activation via inhibiting reactive oxygen species, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and nuclear factor-κB/ activator protein-1 activities with enhancement of heme oxygenase-1/antioxidant response element signaling. To address the anti-inflammatory effects of compound K in vivo, we used two brain disease models of mice: sepsis (systemic inflammation) and cerebral ischemia. Compound K reduced the number of Iba1-positive activated microglia and inhibited the expressions of tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β in the LPS-induced sepsis brain. Furthermore, compound K reduced the infarct volume of ischemic brain induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion and suppressed microglial activation in the ischemic cortex. The results collectively suggest that compound K is a promising agent for prevention and/or treatment of cerebral ischemia and other neuroinflammatory disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2012


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