Anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of plumbagin through inhibition of nuclear factor-κB activation

Pei Luo, Yuen Fan Wong, Lin Ge, Zhi Feng Zhang, Yuan Liu, Liang LIU, Hua Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Plumbagin (5-hydroxy-2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone) (PL) is a naturally occurring yellow pigment found in the plants of the Plumbaginaceae, Droseraceae, Ancistrocladaceae, and Dioncophyllaceae families. It has been reported that PL exhibits anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic activities. However, the mechanism underlying its anti-inflammatory action remains unknown. In the current study, we investigated and characterized the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of PL orally administrated in a range of dosages from 5 to 20 mg/kg. We also examined the role of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and proinflammatory cytokines and mediators in this effect. The results showed that PL significantly and dose-dependently suppressed the paw edema of rats induced by carrageenan and various proinflammatory mediators, including histamine, serotonin, bradykinin, and prostaglandin E2. PL reduced the number of writhing episodes of mice induced by the intraperitoneal injection of acetic acid, but it did not reduce the writhing episode numbers induced by MgSO 4 in mice or prolong the tail-flick reaction time of rats to noxious thermal pain. Mechanistic studies showed that PL effectively decreased the production of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor α. It also inhibited the expression of the proinflammatory mediators inducible nitricoxide synthase and cyclooxygenase 2, whereas it did not inhibit the expression of cyclooxygenase 1. Further studies demonstrated that PL suppressed inhibitor of κBα phosphorylation and degradation, thus inhibiting the phosphorylation of the p65 subunit of NF-κB. This study suggests that PL has a potential to be developed into an anti-inflammatory agent for treating inflammatory diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-742
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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