Glycyrrhizic acid affords robust neuroprotection in the postischemic brain via anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting HMGB1 phosphorylation and secretion

Seung Woo Kim, Yinchuan Jin, Joo Hyun Shin, Il Doo Kim, Hye Kyung Lee, Sunghyouk Park, Pyung Lim Han, Ja Kyeong Lee

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203 Scopus citations


High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is an endogenous danger signal molecule. In a previous report, we showed that HMGB1 is massively released during NMDA-induced acute damaging process in the postischemic brain and triggers inflammatory processes, like microglial activation. siRNA-mediated HMGB1 knockdown markedly reduced infarct volumes, confirming the crucial role played by HMGB1 in the postischemic brain. In the present study, we showed neuroprotective effects of glycyrrhizin (GL) in the postischemic rat brain after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). GL, a triterpene present in the roots and rhizomes of licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects. It has been reported that GL binds directly to HMGB1, and inhibits its chemoattractant and mitogenic activities. The administration of GL (10. mg/kg) intravenously at 3 or 6. h after MCAO reduced infarct volumes to 12.9 ± 4.2% and 46.2 ± 9.9%, respectively, of untreated control. This neuroprotective effect was accompanied by improvements in motor impairment and neurological deficits and suppressions of microglia activation and proinflammatory cytokine induction. Interestingly, GL almost completely blocked HMGB1 secretion in the postischemic brain and in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated microglia cells. Furthermore, HMGB1 phosphorylation, which is the initial step for HMGB1 secretion, and the interaction between HMGB1 and protein kinase C (PKC) or calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV) were suppressed dose-dependently by GL. Here, we hypothesized that the blockage for the putative phosphorylation sites in HMGB1 by GL might be attributed to this suppression. In addition to the anti-inflammatory effects, we found that GL has anti-excitotoxic and anti-oxidative effects in neurons. Together these results indicate that GL has neuroprotective efficacy in the postischemic brain via its anti-inflammatory, anti-excitotoxic, and anti-oxidative effects and in particular, it exerts anti-inflammatory effect, at least in part, by inhibiting HMGB1 secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Mid-career Researcher Program through NRF grant funded by the MEST ( 2007-0053480 ) and Research Grant from Inha University for Ja-Kyeong Lee.


  • Anti-inflammation
  • Glycyrrhizin
  • HMGB1
  • MCAO
  • Neuroprotection


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