PloS one

Genipin inhibits TNF-α-induced vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration via induction of HO-1.

PMID 24013271


Vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and migration triggered by inflammatory stimuli contributes importantly to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and restenosis. On the other hand, genipin, an aglycon of geniposide, exhibits diverse pharmacological functions such as antitumor and anti-inflammatory effects. The protective effects of genipin on the cardiovascular system have also been reported. However, the molecular mechanism involved remains unknown. This study aimed to elucidate the precise function of genipin in VSMCs, focusing particularly on the role of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a potent anti-inflammatory enzyme. We found that pretreatment of genipin induced HO-1 mRNA and protein levels, as well as its activity in VSMCs. Genipin inhibited TNF-α-induced VSMC proliferation and migration in a dose-dependent manner. At the molecular level, genipin prevented ERK/MAPK and Akt phosphorylation while left p38 MAPK and JNK unchanged. Genipin also blocked the increase of ROS generation induced by TNF-α. More importantly, the specific HO-1 siRNA partially abolished the beneficial effects of genipin on VSMCs. These results suggest that genipin may serve as a novel drug in the treatment of these pathologies by inducing HO-1 expression/activity and subsequently decreasing VSMC proliferation and migration.