Journal of ethnopharmacology

The medicinal fungus Antrodia cinnamomea suppresses inflammation by inhibiting the NLRP3 inflammasome.

PMID 24858059


Antrodia cinnamomea--a medicinal fungus that is indigenous to Taiwan--has been used as a health tonic by aboriginal tribes and the Asian population. Recent studies indicate that Antrodia cinnamomea extracts exhibit hepato-protective, anti-hypertensive, anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, immuno-modulatory, and anti-cancer effects on cultured cells and laboratory animals. This study aims to explore the anti-inflammatory activity of an Antrodia cinnamomea ethanol extract (ACEE) and elucidate its underlying mechanisms of action using lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-primed, ATP-stimulated human THP-1 macrophages. The effects of ACEE on cell viability were studied using the MTT assay. The expressions of genes, proteins, and pro-inflammatory cytokines were measured by quantitative real-time RT-PCR, Western blotting and ELISA, respectively. The ACEE was further investigated for its effects on reactive oxygen species (ROS) production using ROS detection kit. Our results showed that ACEE significantly inhibits ATP-induced secretion of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-18 (IL-18) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) by LPS-primed macrophages. ACEE also suppresses the transcription and activation of caspase-1, which is responsible for the cleavage and activation of IL-1β and IL-18. Of note, ACEE not only reduces expression of the inflammasome component NLRP3 and the purinergic receptor P2X7R but also inhibits ATP-induced ROS production and caspase-1 activation. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of ACEE correlate with reduced activation of the MAPK and NF-κB pathways. The results of the present study indicate that Antrodia cinnamomea suppresses the secretion of IL-1β and IL-18 associated with inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome in macrophages. These findings suggest that ACEE may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.