Microglia activation plays a pivotal role in neurodegenerative diseases, and thus controlling microglial activation has been suggested as a promising therapeutic strategy for neurodegenerative diseases. In the present study, we showed that ginsenoside Rh1 inhibited inducible nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase-2, and pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated microglia, while Rh1 increased anti-inflammatory IL-10 and hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression. Suppression of microglial activation by Rh1 was also observed in the mouse brain following treatment with LPS. Subsequent mechanistic studies revealed that Rh1 inhibited LPS-induced MAPK phosphorylation and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB)-mediated transcription without affecting NF-κB DNA binding. As the increase of pCREB (cAMP responsive element-binding protein) is known to result in suppression of NF-κB-mediated transcription, we examined whether Rh1 increased pCREB levels. As expected, Rh1 increased pCREB, which was shown to be related to the anti-inflammatory effect of Rh1 because pre-treatment with protein kinase A inhibitors attenuated the Rh1-mediated inhibition of nitric oxide production and the up-regulation of IL-10 and HO-1. Furthermore, treatment of HO-1 shRNA attenuated Rh1-mediated inhibition of nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species production. Through this study, we have demonstrated that protein kinase A and its downstream effector, HO-1, play a critical role in the anti-inflammatory mechanism of Rh1 by modulating pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules in activated microglia.
- ginsenoside Rh1