• plumericin;
  • NF-κB;
  • inflammation;
  • peritonitis;
  • IκB;
  • IKK-β;
  • natural products;
  • adhesion molecules

Background and Purpose

The transcription factor NF-κB orchestrates many pro-inflammatory signals and its inhibition is considered a promising strategy to combat inflammation. Here we report the characterization of the natural product plumericin as a highly potent inhibitor of the NF-κB pathway with a novel chemical scaffold, which was isolated via a bioactivity-guided approach, from extracts of Himatanthus sucuuba, an Amazonian plant traditionally used to treat inflammation-related disorders.

Experimental Approach

A NF-κB luciferase reporter gene assay was used to identify NF-κB pathway inhibitors from H. sucuuba extracts. Monitoring of TNF-α-induced expression of the adhesion molecules VCAM-1, ICAM-1 and E-selectin by flow cytometry was used to confirm NF-κB inhibition in endothelial cells, and thioglycollate-induced peritonitis in mice to confirm effects in vivo. Western blotting and transfection experiments were used to investigate the mechanism of action of plumericin.

Key Results

Plumericin inhibited NF-κB-mediated transactivation of a luciferase reporter gene (IC50 1 μM), abolished TNF-α-induced expression of the adhesion molecules VCAM-1, ICAM-1 and E-selectin in endothelial cells and suppressed thioglycollate-induced peritonitis in mice. Plumericin exerted its NF-κB pathway inhibitory effect by blocking IκB phosphorylation and degradation. Plumericin also inhibited NF-κB activation induced by transfection with the constitutively active catalytic subunit of the IκB kinase (IKK-β), suggesting IKK involvement in the inhibitory action of this natural product.

Conclusion and Implications

Plumericin is a potent inhibitor of NF-κB pathways with a new chemical scaffold. It could be further explored as a novel anti-inflammatory lead compound.