Sulforaphane rescues amyloid-β Peptide-mediated decrease in MerTK expression through its anti-inflammatory effect in human THP-1 macrophages

Kyoung A. Jhang, Jin Sun Park, Hee Sun Kim, Young Hae Chong

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22 Scopus citations


Background: Mer tyrosine kinase (MerTK) activity necessary for amyloid-stimulated phagocytosis strongly implicates that MerTK dysregulation might contribute to chronic inflammation implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. However, the precise mechanism involved in the regulation of MerTK expression by amyloid-β (Aβ) in proinflammatory environment has not yet been ascertained. Methods: The objective of this study was to determine the underlying mechanism involved in Aβ-mediated decrease in MerTK expression through Aβ-mediated regulation of MerTK expression and its modulation by sulforaphane in human THP-1 macrophages challenged with Aβ1-42. We used protein preparation, Ca 2+ influx fluorescence imaging, nuclear fractionation, Western blotting techniques, and small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown to perform our study. Results: Aβ1-42 elicited a marked decrease in MerTK expression along with increased intracellular Ca 2+ level and induction of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β and TNF-α. Ionomycin A and thapsigargin also increased intracellular Ca 2+ levels and production of IL-1β and TNF-α, mimicking the effect of Aβ1-42. In contrast, the Aβ1-42-evoked responses were attenuated by depletion of Ca 2+ with ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid. Furthermore, recombinant IL-1β or TNF-α elicited a decrease in MerTK expression. However, immunodepletion of IL-1β or TNF-α with neutralizing antibodies significantly inhibited Aβ1-42-mediated downregulation of MerTK expression. Notably, sulforaphane treatment potently inhibited Aβ1-42-induced intracellular Ca 2+ level and rescued the decrease in MerTK expression by blocking nuclear factor-ΚB (NF-ΚB) nuclear translocation, thereby decreasing IL-1β and TNF-α production upon Aβ1-42 stimulation. Such adverse effects of sulforaphane were replicated by BAY 11-7082, a NF-ΚB inhibitor. Moreover, sulforaphane's anti-inflammatory effects on Aβ1-42-induced production of IL-1β and TNF-α were significantly diminished by siRNA-mediated knockdown of MerTK, confirming a critical role of MerTK in suppressing Aβ1-42-induced innate immune response. Conclusion: These findings implicate that targeting of MerTK with phytochemical sulforaphane as a mechanism for preventing Aβ1-42-induced neuroinflammation has potential to be applied in AD therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number75
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 12 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (2010-0027945).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Aβ1-42
  • Innate immune response
  • MerTK
  • Sulforaphane


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