Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin

Tryptanthrin protects hepatocytes against oxidative stress via activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase/NF-E2-related factor 2 pathway.

PMID 25273386


Tryptanthrin [6,12-dihydro-6,12-dioxoindolo-(2,1-b)-quinazoline], originally isolated from Isatidis radix, has been characterized as having anti-microbial and anti-tumor activities. It is well-known that excess oxidative stress is one of the major factors causing cell damage in the liver. This study investigated the cytoprotective effects and molecular mechanism of tryptanthrin against tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBHP)-induced oxidative stress in human hepatocyte-derived HepG2 cells. Tryptanthrin pre-treatment blocked the reactive oxygen species production, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cell death induced by tBHP. Moreover, tryptanthrin reversed tBHP-induced GSH reduction. This study also confirmed the activation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) by tryptanthrin as a plausible molecular mechanism for its cytoprotective effects. Specifically, tryptanthrin treatment induced nuclear translocation and transactivation of Nrf2 as well as phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), a potential upstream kinase of Nrf2. Tryptanthrin also up-regulated the expression of the heme oxygenase 1 and glutamate-cysteine ligase catalytic subunits, which are representative target genes of Nrf2. Moreover, inhibitor of ERK was used to verify the important role of the ERK-Nrf2 pathway in the hepatoprotective effects of tryptanthrin. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that tryptanthrin protects hepatocytes against oxidative stress through the activation of the ERK/Nrf2 pathway in HepG2 cells.

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Tryptanthrin, ≥98% (HPLC)