Luteolin inhibits an endotoxin-stimulated phosphorylation cascade and proinflammatory cytokine production in macrophages

Angeliki Xagorari, Andreas Papapetropoulos, Antonis Mauromatis, Michalis Economou, Theodore Fotsis, Charis Roussos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Flavonoids are naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds with a wide distribution throughout the plant kingdom. In the present study, we compared the ability of several flavonoids to modulate the production of proinflammatory molecules from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages and investigated their mechanism(s) of action. Pretreatment of RAW 264.7 with luteolin, luteolin-7-glucoside, quercetin, and the isoflavonoid genistein inhibited both the LPS-stimulated TNF-α and interleukin-6 release, whereas eriodictyol and hesperetin only inhibited TNF-α release. From the compounds tested luteolin and quercetin were the most potent in inhibiting cytokine production with an IC50 of less than 1 and 5 μM for TNF-α release, respectively. To determine the mechanisms by which flavonoids inhibit LPS signaling, we used luteolin and determined its ability to interfere with total protein tyrosine phosphorylation as well as Akt phosphorylation and nuclear factor-κB activation. Pretreatment of the cells with luteolin attenuated LPS-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of many discrete proteins. Moreover, luteolin inhibited LPS-induced phosphorylation of Akt. Treatment of macrophages with LPS resulted in increased IκB-α phosphorylation and reduced the levels of IκB-α. Pretreatment of cells with luteolin abolished the effects of LPS on IκB-α. To determine the functional relevance of the phosphorylation events observed with IκB-α, macrophages were transfected either with a control vector or a vector coding for the luciferase reporter gene under the control of κB cis-acting elements. Incubation of transfected RAW 264.7 cells with LPS increased luciferase activity in a luteolin-sensitive manner. We conclude that luteolin inhibits protein tyrosine phosphorylation, nuclear factor-κB-mediated gene expression and proinflammatory cytokine production in murine macrophages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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