In the present study, we found that the natural compound arctigenin inhibited hydrogen peroxide-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in rat primary astrocytes. Since hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) plays a critical role as an antioxidant defense factor in the brain, we examined the effect of arctigenin on HO-1 expression in rat primary astrocytes. We found that arctigenin increased HO-1 mRNA and protein levels. Arctigenin also increases the nuclear translocation and DNA binding of Nrf2/c-Jun to the antioxidant response element (ARE) on HO-1 promoter. In addition, arctigenin increased ARE-mediated transcriptional activities in rat primary astrocytes. Further mechanistic studies revealed that arctigenin increased the phosphorylation of AKT, a downstream substrate of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K). Treatment of cells with a PI3K-specific inhibitor, LY294002, suppressed the HO-1 expression, Nrf2 DNA binding and ARE-mediated transcriptional activities in arctigenin-treated astrocyte cells. The results collectively suggest that PI3K/AKT signaling pathway is at least partly involved in HO-1 expression by arctigenin via modulation of Nrf2/ARE axis in rat primary astrocytes.
- Nrf2/ARE axis