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1.  Effects of Intermediates between Vitamins K2 and K3 on Mammalian DNA Polymerase Inhibition and Anti-Inflammatory Activity 
Previously, we reported that vitamin K3 (VK3), but not VK1 or VK2 (=MK-4), inhibits the activity of human DNA polymerase γ (pol γ). In this study, we chemically synthesized three intermediate compounds between VK2 and VK3, namely MK-3, MK-2 and MK-1, and investigated the inhibitory effects of all five compounds on the activity of mammalian pols. Among these compounds, MK-2 was the strongest inhibitor of mammalian pols α, κ and λ, which belong to the B, Y and X families of pols, respectively; whereas VK3 was the strongest inhibitor of human pol γ, an A-family pol. MK-2 potently inhibited the activity of all animal species of pol tested, and its inhibitory effect on pol λ activity was the strongest with an IC50 value of 24.6 μM. However, MK-2 did not affect the activity of plant or prokaryotic pols, or that of other DNA metabolic enzymes such as primase of pol α, RNA polymerase, polynucleotide kinase or deoxyribonuclease I. Because we previously found a positive relationship between pol λ inhibition and anti-inflammatory action, we examined whether these compounds could inhibit inflammatory responses. Among the five compounds tested, MK-2 caused the greatest reduction in 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced acute inflammation in mouse ear. In addition, in a cell culture system using mouse macrophages, MK-2 displayed the strongest suppression of the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Moreover, MK-2 was found to inhibit the action of nuclear factor (NF)-κB. In an in vivo mouse model of LPS-evoked acute inflammation, intraperitoneal injection of MK-2 in mice led to suppression of TNF-α production in serum. In conclusion, this study has identified VK2 and VK3 intermediates, such as MK-2, that are promising anti-inflammatory candidates.
PMCID: PMC3083694  PMID: 21541047
vitamin K; MK-2; DNA polymerase λ; enzyme inhibitor; anti-inflammation
2.  Glycyrrhizin Attenuates MPTP Neurotoxicity in Mouse and MPP+-Induced Cell Death in PC12 Cells 
The present study examined the inhibitory effect of licorice compounds glycyrrhizin and a metabolite 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid on the neurotoxicity of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) in the mouse and on the 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+)-induced cell death in differentiated PC12 cells. MPTP treatment increased the activities of total superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase and the levels of malondialdehyde and carbonyls in the brain compared to control mouse brain. Co-administration of glycyrrhizin (16.8 mg/kg) attenuated the MPTP effect on the enzyme activities and formation of tissue peroxidation products. In vitro assay, licorice compounds attenuated the MPP+-induced cell death and caspase-3 activation in PC12 cells. Glycyrrhizin up to 100µM significantly attenuated the toxicity of MPP+. Meanwhile, 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid showed a maximum inhibitory effect at 10µM; beyond this concentration the inhibitory effect declined. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid attenuated the hydrogen peroxide- or nitrogen species-induced cell death. Results from this study indicate that glycyrrhizin may attenuate brain tissue damage in mice treated with MPTP through inhibitory effect on oxidative tissue damage. Glycyrrhizin and 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid may reduce the MPP+ toxicity in PC12 cells by suppressing caspase-3 activation. The effect seems to be ascribed to the antioxidant effect.
PMCID: PMC2817536  PMID: 20157396
Glycyrrhizin; MPTP; MPP+; Brain tissue damage; Cell death; Inhibitory effect
3.  The relationship between the molecular structure of natural acetogenins and their inhibitory activities which affect DNA polymerase, DNA topoisomerase and human cancer cell growth 
Acetogenins from the Annonaceous plant are a fatty acid-derived natural product. Chemically synthesized natural acetogenins, such as mucocin (compound 1), jimenezin (compound 2), muconin (compound 4), pyranicin (compound 5) and pyragonicin (compound 6) were investigated. Concomitantly, 19-epi jimenezin (compound 3), 10-epi pyragonicin (compound 7) and a γ-lactone (compound 8), which is estimated to be a biosynthetic precursor of acetogenins, were synthesized and investigated. Compounds 5 and 6 strongly inhibited, and compound 7 moderately inhibited the activities of mammalian DNA polymerases (pols), such as replicative pol α and repair/recombination-related pol β and λ, and also inhibited human DNA topoisomerase (topos) I and II activities. On the other hand, compounds 1–4 and 8 did not influence the activities of any pols and topos. Compound 5 was the strongest inhibitor of the pols and topos tested, and the IC50 values were 5.0–9.6 μM, respectively. These compounds also suppressed human cancer cell growth with almost the same tendency as the inhibition of pols and topos. Compound 5 was the strongest suppressor of the proliferation of the promyelocytic leukemia cell line, HL-60, in human cancer cell lines tested with an LD50 value of 9.4 μM, and arrested the cells at G1 phases, indicating that it blocks DNA replication by inhibiting the activity of pols rather than topos. This compound also induced cell apoptosis. The relationship between the three-dimensional molecular structure of acetogenins and these inhibitory activities is discussed. The results suggested that compound 5 is a lead compound of potentially useful cancer chemotherapy agents.
PMCID: PMC3490394  PMID: 23136587
acetogenins; pyranicin; enzyme inhibitor; DNA polymerase; DNA topoisomerase; cell cycle arrest; apoptosis; anti-cancer agent; computer simulation
4.  Anti-Tumor Effects of Novel 5-O-Acyl Plumbagins Based on the Inhibition of Mammalian DNA Replicative Polymerase Activity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88736.
We previously found that vitamin K3 (menadione, 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone) inhibits the activity of human mitochondrial DNA polymerase γ (pol γ). In this study, we focused on plumbagin (5-hydroxy-2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone), and chemically synthesized novel plumbagins conjugated with C2:0 to C22:6 fatty acids (5-O-acyl plumbagins). These chemically modified plumbagins enhanced mammalian pol inhibition and their cytotoxic activity. Plumbagin conjugated with chains consisting of more than C18-unsaturated fatty acids strongly inhibited the activities of calf pol α and human pol γ. Plumbagin conjugated with oleic acid (C18:1-acyl plumbagin) showed the strongest suppression of human colon carcinoma (HCT116) cell proliferation among the ten synthesized 5-O-acyl plumbagins. The inhibitory activity on pol α, a DNA replicative pol, by these compounds showed high correlation with their cancer cell proliferation suppressive activity. C18:1-Acyl plumbagin selectively inhibited the activities of mammalian pol species, but did not influence the activities of other pols and DNA metabolic enzymes tested. This compound inhibited the proliferation of various human cancer cell lines, and was the cytotoxic inhibitor showing strongest inhibition towards HT-29 colon cancer cells (LD50 = 2.9 µM) among the nine cell lines tested. In an in vivo anti-tumor assay conducted on nude mice bearing solid tumors of HT-29 cells, C18:1-acyl plumbagin was shown to be a promising tumor suppressor. These data indicate that novel 5-O-acyl plumbagins act as anti-cancer agents based on mammalian DNA replicative pol α inhibition. Moreover, the results suggest that acylation of plumbagin is an effective chemical modification to improve the anti-cancer activity of vitamin K3 derivatives, such as plumbagin.
PMCID: PMC3919815  PMID: 24520419
5.  Inhibition of nitric oxide and inflammatory cytokines in LPS-stimulated murine macrophages by resveratrol, a potent proteasome inhibitor 
Altered immune function during ageing results in increased production of nitric oxide (NO) and other inflammatory mediators. Recently, we have reported that NO production was inhibited by naturally-occurring proteasome inhibitors (quercetin, δ-tocotrienol, and riboflavin) in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells, and thioglycolate-elicited peritoneal macrophages from C57BL/6 mice. In a continuous effort to find more potent, non-toxic, commercially available, naturally-occurring proteasome inhibitors that suppress inflammation, the present study was carried out to describe the inhibition of NF-κB activation and NO, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, and iNOS expression by trans-resveratrol, trans-pterostilbene, morin hydrate, and nicotinic acid in LPS-induced RAW 264.7 cells and thioglycolate-elicited peritoneal macrophages from C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice.
The present results indicate that resveratrol, pterostilbene, and morin hydrate caused significant inhibition (>70% to 90%; P < 0.02) in the activities of chymotrypsin-like, trypsin-like, and post-acidic (post-glutamase) proteasome sites in RAW 264.7 cells at a dose of only 20 μM. These compounds also inhibited the production of NO by RAW-264.7 cells stimulated with LPS alone (>40%; P < 0.05), or LPS + interferon-γ (IFN-γ; >60%; P < 0.02). Furthermore, resveratrol, pterostilbene, morin hydrate, and quercetin suppressed secretion of TNF-α (>40%; P < 0.05) in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells, and suppressed NF-κB activation (22% to 45%; P < 0.05) in LPS-stimulated HEK293T cells. These compounds also significantly suppressed LPS-induced expression of TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, and iNOS genes in RAW 264.7 cells, and also in thioglycolate-elicited peritoneal macrophages from C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice.
The present results clearly demonstrate that resveratrol and pterostilbene are particularly potent proteasome inhibitors that suppress expression of genes, and production of inflammatory products in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells, and macrophages from C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice. Resveratrol and pterostilbene which are present in grapes, blueberries, and red wine, have been implicated as contributing factors to the lower incidence of cardiovascular disease in the French population, despite their relatively high dietary fat intake. Consequently, it appears likely that the beneficial nutritional effects of resveratrol and pterostilbene are due at least in part, to their ability to inhibit NF-κB activation by the proteasome, thereby suppressing activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines and iNOS genes, resulting in decreased secretion of TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, and NO levels, in response to inflammatory stimuli. This is the first report demonstrating that resveratrol and pterostilbene act as proteasome inhibitors, thus providing a mechanism for their anti-inflammatory effects.
PMCID: PMC3393619  PMID: 22698256
Nitric oxide (NO); TNF-α; NF-κB; Cytokines; Resveratrol; Proteasome inhibitors
6.  Identification of anti-inflammatory constituents in Hypericum perforatum and Hypericum gentianoides extracts using RAW 264.7 mouse macrophages 
Phytochemistry  2011;72(16):2015-2023.
Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) is an herb widely used as supplement for mild to moderate depression. Our prior studies revealed synergistic anti-inflammatory activity associated with 4 bioactive compounds in a fraction of H. perforatum ethanol extract. Whether these 4 compounds also contributed to the ethanol extract activity was addressed in the research reported here. Despite the popularity of H. perforatum, other Hypericum species with different phytochemical profiles could have their anti-inflammatory potentials attributed to these or other compounds. In the current study, ethanol extracts of different Hypericum species were compared for their inhibitory effect on LPS-induced prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and nitric oxide (NO) production in RAW 264.7 mouse macrophages. Among these extracts, those made from H. perforatum and H. gentianoides demonstrated stronger overall efficacy. LC-MS analysis indicated the 4 compounds in H. perforatum extract and pseudohypericin in all active fractions. The 4 compounds accounted for a significant part of the extract’s inhibitory activity on PGE2, NO, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in RAW 264.7 as well as peritoneal macrophages. Pseudohypericin was the most important contributor of the anti-inflammatory potential among the 4 compounds. The lipophilic fractions of H. gentianoides extract, which did not contain the previously identified active constituents, decreased PGE2 and NO potently. These fractions were rich in acylphloroglucinols, including uliginosin A that accounted for a proportion of the anti-inflammatory activity observed with the active fractions. Overall, the current study revealed a different group of major anti-inflammatory constituents in H. gentianoides, while showing that a previously identified 4 compounds combination was important for H. perforatum’s anti-inflammatory potential.
PMCID: PMC3197739  PMID: 21855951
Hypericum perforatum; Hypericum gentianoides; RAW 264.7 macrophages; Peritoneal macrophages; Inflammation; Lipopolysaccharide; Acylphloroglucinols; Pseudohypericin; Prostaglandin E2; Nitric oxide
7.  Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate Inhibits HMGB1-Dependent Inflammation and Ameliorates Colitis in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66527.
High mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) is a DNA-binding protein that is released from injured cells during inflammation. Advances in targeting HMGB1 represent a major challenge to improve the treatment of acute/chronic inflammation.
This study is aimed at verifying whether the inhibition of HMGB1 through dipotassium glycyrrhizate (DPG) is a good strategy to reduce intestinal inflammation.
Human colon adenocarcinoma cell line, HT29, human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma, Caco2, and murine macrophage cell line, RAW 264.7, were cultured to investigate the effect of DPG on the secretion of HMGB1. Acute colitis was induced in C57BL/6 mice through administration of 3% dextran sodium sulphate (DSS); a combined treatment with DSS and 3 or 8 mg/kg/day DPG was used to investigate the effects of DPG on intestinal inflammation. Animals were euthanized at seventh day and colonic samples underwent molecular and histological analyses.
DPG significantly reduces in vitro the release of HMGB1 in the extracellular matrix as well as expression levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6, by inhibiting HMGB1. Moreover, DPG significantly decreases the severity of DSS-induced colitis in mice. Murine colonic samples show decreased mRNA levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-6, as well as HMGB1 receptors, RAGE and TLR4. Finally, HMGB1, abundantly present in the feces of mice with DSS-induced colitis, is strongly reduced by DPG.
HMGB1 is an early pro-inflammatory cytokine and an active protagonist of mucosal gut inflammation. DPG exerts inhibitory effects against HMGB1 activity, significantly reducing intestinal inflammation. Thus, we reason that DPG could represent an innovative tool for the management of human intestinal inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3686690  PMID: 23840500
8.  Antitubercular specific activity of ibuprofen and the other 2-arylpropanoic acids using the HT-SPOTi whole-cell phenotypic assay 
BMJ Open  2013;3(6):e002672.
Lead antituberculosis (anti-TB) molecules with novel mechanisms of action are urgently required to fuel the anti-TB drug discovery pipeline. The aim of this study was to validate the use of the high-throughput spot culture growth inhibition (HT-SPOTi) assay for screening libraries of compounds against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and to study the inhibitory effect of ibuprofen (IBP) and the other 2-arylpropanoic acids on the growth inhibition of M tuberculosis and other mycobacterial species.
The HT-SPOTi method was validated not only with known drugs but also with a library of 47 confirmed anti-TB active compounds published in the ChEMBL database. Three over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were also included in the screening. The 2-arylpropanoic acids, including IBP, were comprehensively evaluated against phenotypically and physiologically different strains of mycobacteria, and their cytotoxicity was determined against murine RAW264.7 macrophages. Furthermore, a comparative bioinformatic analysis was employed to propose a potential mycobacterial target.
IBP showed antitubercular properties while carprofen was the most potent among the 2-arylpropanoic class. A 3,5-dinitro-IBP derivative was found to be more potent than IBP but equally selective. Other synthetic derivatives of IBP were less active, and the free carboxylic acid of IBP seems to be essential for its anti-TB activity. IBP, carprofen and the 3,5-dinitro-IBP derivative exhibited activity against multidrug-resistant isolates and stationary phase bacilli. On the basis of the human targets of the 2-arylpropanoic analgesics, the protein initiation factor infB (Rv2839c) of M tuberculosis was proposed as a potential molecular target.
The HT-SPOTi method can be employed reliably and reproducibly to screen the antimicrobial potency of different compounds. IBP demonstrated specific antitubercular activity, while carprofen was the most selective agent among the 2-arylpropanoic class. Activity against stationary phase bacilli and multidrug-resistant isolates permits us to speculate a novel mechanism of antimycobacterial action. Further medicinal chemistry and target elucidation studies could potentially lead to new therapies against TB.
PMCID: PMC3693423  PMID: 23794563
BACTERIOLOGY; Whole Cell Phenotypic Screening; NSAIDs
9.  Mechanisms by Which Licochalcone E Exhibits Potent Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Studies with Phorbol Ester-Treated Mouse Skin and Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated Murine Macrophages 
In this study we found that licochalcone E (LicE), a recently isolated retrochalcone from Glycyrrhiza inflata, exhibits potent anti-inflammatory effects in 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced mouse ear edema and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW 264.7 murine macrophage models. Topical application of LicE (0.5–2 mg) effectively inhibited TPA-induced (1) ear edema formation; (2) phosphorylation of stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (SAPK/JNK), c-Jun, and extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2; and (3) expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 proteins in mouse skin. The treatment of RAW 264.7 cells with LicE (2.5–7.5 μmol/L) induced a profound reduction in LPS-induced (1) release of NO and prostaglandin E2; (2) mRNA expression and secretion of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α; (3) promoter activity of iNOS and COX-2 and expression of their corresponding mRNAs and proteins; (4) activation of AKT, p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK), SAPK/JNK and c-Jun; (5) phosphorylation of inhibitor of κB (IκB) kinase-αβ and IκBα, degradation of IκBα, translocation of p65 (RelA) to the nucleus and transcriptional activity of nuclear factor (NF)-κB; and (6) transcriptional activity of activator protein (AP)-1. These results indicate that the LicE inhibition of NF-κB and AP-1 transcriptional activity through the inhibition of AKT and MAPK activation contributes to decreases in the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and the inducible enzymes iNOS and COX-2.
PMCID: PMC3709710  PMID: 23708096
licochalcone E; inflammation; mouse skin
10.  Effect of artemisinins and other endoperoxides on nitric oxide-related signaling pathway in RAW 264.7 mouse macrophage cells 
Artemisinin is the active principle of the Chinese herb Artemisia annua L. In addition to its anti-malarial activity, artemisinin and its derivatives have been shown to exert profound anti-cancer activity. The endoperoxide moiety in the chemical structure of artemisinin is thought to be responsible for the bioactivity. Here, we analyzed the cytotoxicity and the ability of artemisinin, five of its derivatives, and two other endoperoxides to inhibit generation of nitric oxide (NO). In the RAW 264.7 mouse macrophage cell line, the well-established model cell line to analyze NO generation, artesunate revealed the highest ability to inhibit NO production among all compounds tested. In cytotoxicity assays (XTT assay), the IC50 value of RAW 264.7 cells for artesunate was determined to be 3.1 ± 0.7 μM. In order to associate the cytotoxic effects with specific alteration in gene expression related to NO metabolism and signaling, whole genome mRNA microarray analyses were conducted. RAW 264.7 cells were treated with artesunate using DMSO as vehicle control followed by microarray analysis. A total of 36 genes related to NO metabolism and signaling were found to be differentially expressed upon exposure to artesunate. Apart from NO-related genes, the expression of genes associated with other functional groups was also analyzed. Out of 24 functional groups, differential expression was most prominent in genes involved in cell-to-cell signaling and interactions. Further refinement of this analysis showed that the pathways for cAMP-mediated signaling and Wnt/β-catenin signaling were most closely related to changes in mRNA expression. In conclusion, NO generation and signaling play a role in exhibiting cytotoxic activity of artesunate. In addition, other signaling pathways also contribute to the inhibitory effect of artesunate towards RAW 264.7 cells pointing to a multi-factorial mode of action of artesunate.
PMCID: PMC2582405  PMID: 18472018
Artemisinin; Pharmacogenomics; Microarray; Nitric oxide; Pharmacognosy; Traditional Chinese medicine
11.  3-O-Methylfunicone, a Selective Inhibitor of Mammalian Y-Family DNA Polymerases from an Australian Sea Salt Fungal Strain 
Marine Drugs  2009;7(4):624-639.
We isolated a pol inhibitor from the cultured mycelia extract of a fungal strain isolated from natural salt from a sea salt pan in Australia, which was identified as 3-O-methylfunicone by spectroscopic analyses. This compound selectively inhibited the activities of mammalian Y-family DNA polymerases (pols) (i.e., pols η, ι and κ). Among these pols, human pol κ activity was most strongly inhibited, with an IC50 value of 12.5 μM. On the other hand, the compound barely influenced the activities of the other families of mammalian pols, such as A-family (i.e., pol γ), B-family (i.e., pols α, δ and ɛ) or X-family (i.e., pols β, λ and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase), and showed no effect on the activities of fish pol δ, plant pols, prokaryotic pols and other DNA metabolic enzymes, such as calf primase of pol α, human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase, human telomerase, T7 RNA polymerase, mouse IMP dehydrogenase (type II), human topoisomerases I and II, T4 polynucleotide kinase or bovine deoxyribonuclease I. This compound also suppressed the growth of two cultured human cancer cell lines, HCT116 (colon carcinoma cells) and HeLa (cervix carcinoma cells), and UV-treated HeLa cells exhibited lower clonogenic survival in the presence of inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC2810227  PMID: 20098603
3-O-methylfunicone; Y-family DNA polymerase; DNA polymerase κ; enzyme inhibitor; marine fungal strains; Australian sea salt; anti-cancer drug
12.  Structure-based redesign of an edema toxin inhibitor 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2011;20(1):368-376.
Edema Factor toxin (EF) of Bacillus anthracis (NIAID category A), and several other toxins from NIAID category B Biodefense target bacteria are adenylyl cyclases or adenylyl cyclase agonists that catalyze the conversion of ATP to 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). We previously identified compound 1 (3-[(9-Oxo-9H-fluorene-1-carbonyl)-amino]-benzoic acid), that inhibits EF activity in cultured mammalian cells, and reduces diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) at an oral dosage of 15 μg/mouse. Here, molecular docking was used to predict improvements in potency and solubility of new derivatives of compound 1 in inhibiting edema toxin-(ET) catalyzed stimulation of cyclic AMP production in murine monocyte-macrophage cells (RAW 264.7). Structure-activity relationship (SAR) analysis of the bioassay results for 22 compounds indicated positions important for activity. Several derivatives demonstrated superior pharmacological properties compared to our initial lead compound, and are promising candidates to treat anthrax infections and diarrheal diseases induced by toxin-producing bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3251925  PMID: 22154558
Adenylyl cyclase toxin inhibitor; non-nucleotide inhibitors; toxicity profiling; computer aided design; cell based assay
13.  2-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)-5-(3-Hydroxypropenyl)-7-Methoxybenzofuran, a Novel Ailanthoidol Derivative, Exerts Anti-Inflammatory Effect through Downregulation of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase in Lipopolysaccharide-Treated RAW 264.7 Cells 
We reported that ailanthoidol, a neolignan from Zanthoxylum ailanthoides and Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, inhibited inflammatory reactions by macrophages and protected mice from endotoxin shock. We examined the anti-inflammatory activity of six synthetic ailanthoidol derivatives (compounds 1-6). Among them, compound 4, 2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-5-(3-hydroxypropenyl)-7-methoxybenzofuran, had the lowest IC50 value concerning nitric oxide (NO) release from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. Compound 4 suppressed the generation of prostaglandin (PG) E2 and the expression of inducible NO synthase and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 induced by LPS, and inhibited the release of LPS-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines from RAW264.7 cells. The underlying mechanism of compound 4 on anti-inflammatory action was correlated with the down-regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and activator protein-1 activation. Compound 4 is potentially an effective functional chemical candidate for the prevention of inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3682082  PMID: 23776398
Ailanthoidol derivatives; AP-1; Cytokines; Inflammation; Macrophage
14.  Anti-Inflammatory Components from the Root of Solanum erianthum 
Two new norsesquiterpenoids, solanerianones A and B (1–2), together with nine known compounds, including four sesquiterpenoids, (−)-solavetivone (3), (+)-anhydro-β-rotunol (4), solafuranone (5), lycifuranone A (6); one alkaloid, N-trans-feruloyltyramine (7); one fatty acid, palmitic acid (8); one phenylalkanoid, acetovanillone (9), and two steroids, β-sitosterol (10) and stigmasterol (11) were isolated from the n-hexane-soluble part of the roots of Solanum erianthum. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of physical and spectroscopic data analyses. The anti-inflammatory activity of these isolates was monitored by nitric oxide (NO) production in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated murine macrophage RAW264.7 cells. The cytotoxicity towards human lung squamous carcinoma (CH27), human hepatocellular carcinoma (Hep 3B), human oral squamous carcinoma (HSC-3) and human melanoma (M21) cell lines was also screened by using an MTT assay. Of the compounds tested, 3 exhibited the strongest NO inhibition with the average maximum inhibition (Emax) at 100 μM and median inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of 98.23% ± 0.08% and 65.54 ± 0.18 μM, respectively. None of compounds (1–9) was found to possess cytotoxic activity against human cancer cell lines at concentrations up to 30 μM.
PMCID: PMC3709801  PMID: 23771024
Solanum erianthum; Solanaceae; root; solanerianone; norsesquiterpenoid; sesquiterpenoid; spirovetivene; anti-inflammatory; cytotoxicity
15.  Anti-inflammatory effect of ethanolic extract from Myagropsis myagroides on murine macrophages and mouse ear edema 
This study aims to investigate anti-inflammatory effect of ethanolic extract of Myagropsis myagroides (EMM) in the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages and the phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)-induced ear edema in mice, and to clarify its underlying molecular mechanisms.
The levels of nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), and pro-inflammatory cytokines were measured by Griess assay and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. The expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and Akt were measured using Western blotting. Nuclear translocation and transcriptional activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) were determined by immunocytochemistry and reporter gene assay, respectively. PMA-induced mouse ear edema was used as the animal model of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory compounds in EMM were isolated using high-performance liquid chromatography and identified by nuclear magnetic resonance.
EMM significantly inhibited the production of NO, PGE2, and pro-inflammatory cytokines in a dose-dependent manner and suppressed the expression of iNOS and COX-2 in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells. EMM strongly suppressed nuclear translocation of NF-κB by preventing degradation of inhibitor of κB-α as well as by inhibiting phosphorylation of Akt and MAPKs. EMM reduced ear edema in PMA-induced mice. One of the anti-inflammatory compounds in EMM was identified as 6,6’-bieckol.
These results suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of EMM are associated with the down-regulation of iNOS, COX-2, and pro-inflammatory cytokines through the inhibition of NF-κB pathway in LPS-stimulated macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3517429  PMID: 23031211
Anti-inflammation; Myagropsis myagroides; MAPK; NF-κB; RAW 264.7 cells
16.  Suppression of nitric oxide induction and pro-inflammatory cytokines by novel proteasome inhibitors in various experimental models 
Inflammation has been implicated in a variety of diseases associated with ageing, including cancer, cardiovascular, and neurologic diseases. We have recently established that the proteasome is a pivotal regulator of inflammation, which modulates the induction of inflammatory mediators such as TNF-α, IL-1, IL-6, and nitric oxide (NO) in response to a variety of stimuli. The present study was undertaken to identify non-toxic proteasome inhibitors with the expectation that these compounds could potentially suppress the production of inflammatory mediators in ageing humans, thereby decreasing the risk of developing ageing related diseases. We evaluated the capacity of various proteasome inhibitors to suppress TNF-α, NO and gene suppression of TNF-α, and iNOS mRNA, by LPS-stimulated macrophages from several sources. Further, we evaluated the mechanisms by which these agents suppress secretion of TNF-α, and NO production. Over the course of these studies, we measured the effects of various proteasome inhibitors on the RAW 264.7 cells, and peritoneal macrophages from four different strains of mice (C57BL/6, BALB/c, proteasome double subunits knockout LMP7/MECL-1-/-, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α,-/- (PPAR-α,-/-) knockout mice. We also directly measured the effect of these proteasome inhibitors on proteolytic activity of 20S rabbit muscle proteasomes.
There was significant reduction of chymotrypsin-like activity of the 20S rabbit muscle proteasomes with dexamethasone (31%), mevinolin (19%), δ-tocotrienol (28%), riboflavin (34%), and quercetin (45%; P < 0.05). Moreover, quercetin, riboflavin, and δ-tocotrienol also inhibited chymotrypsin-like, trypsin-like and post-glutamase activities in RAW 264.7 whole cells. These compounds also inhibited LPS-stimulated NO production and TNF-α, secretion, blocked the degradation of P-IκB protein, and decreased activation of NF-κB, in RAW 264.7 cells. All proteasome inhibitors tested also significantly inhibited NO production (30% to 60% reduction) by LPS-induced thioglycolate-elicited peritoneal macrophages derived from all four strains of mice. All five compounds also suppressed LPS-induced TNF-α, secretion by macrophages from C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice. TNF-α, secretion, however, was not suppressed by any of the three proteasome inhibitors tested (δ-tocotrienol, riboflavin, and quercetin) with LPS-induced macrophages from LMP7/MECL-1-/- and PPAR-α,-/- knockout mice. Results of gene expression studies for TNF-α, and iNOS were generally consistent with results obtained for TNF-α, protein and NO production observed with four strains of mice.
Results of the current study demonstrate that δ-tocotrienol, riboflavin, and quercetin inhibit NO production by LPS-stimulated macrophages of all four strains of mice, and TNF-α, secretion only by LPS-stimulated macrophages of C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice. The mechanism for this inhibition appears to be decreased proteolytic degradation of P-IκB protein by the inhibited proteasome, resulting in decreased translocation of activated NF-κB to the nucleus, and depressed transcription of gene expression of TNF-α, and iNOS. Further, these naturally-occurring proteasome inhibitors tested appear to be relatively potent inhibitors of multiple proteasome subunits in inflammatory proteasomes. Consequently, these agents could potentially suppress the production of inflammatory mediators in ageing humans, thereby decreasing the risk of developing a variety of ageing related diseases.
PMCID: PMC3206449  PMID: 21992595
17.  Terameprocol, a methylated derivative of nordihydroguaiaretic acid, inhibits production of prostaglandins and several key inflammatory cytokines and chemokines 
Extracts of the creosote bush, Larrea tridentata, have been used for centuries by natives of western American and Mexican deserts to treat a variety of infectious diseases and inflammatory disorders. The beneficial activity of this plant has been linked to the compound nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) and its various substituted derivatives. Recently, tetra-O-methyl NDGA or terameprocol (TMP) has been shown to inhibit the growth of certain tumor-derived cell lines and is now in clinical trials for the treatment of human cancer. In this report, we ask whether TMP also displays anti-inflammatory activity. TMP was tested for its ability to inhibit the LPS-induced production of inflammatory lipids and cytokines in vitro. We also examined the effects of TMP on production of TNF-α in C57BL6/J mice following a sublethal challenge with LPS. Finally, we examined the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects we observed.
RAW 264.7 cells and resident peritoneal macrophages from C57BL6/J mice, stimulated with 1 μg/ml LPS, were used in experiments designed to measure the effects of TMP on the production of prostaglandins, cytokines and chemokines. Prostaglandin production was determined by ELISA. Cytokine and chemokine production were determined by antibody array and ELISA.
Western blots, q-RT-PCR, and enzyme assays were used to assess the effects of TMP on expression and activity of COX-2.
q-RT-PCR was used to assess the effects of TMP on levels of cytokine and chemokine mRNA.
C57BL6/J mice injected i.p. with LPS were used in experiments designed to measure the effects of TMP in vivo. Serum levels of TNF-α were determined by ELISA.
TMP strongly inhibited the production of prostaglandins from RAW 264.7 cells and normal peritoneal macrophages. This effect correlated with a TMP-dependent reduction in levels of COX-2 mRNA and protein, and inhibition of the enzymatic activity of COX-2.
TMP inhibited, to varying degrees, the production of several cytokines, and chemokines from RAW 264.7 macrophages and normal peritoneal macrophages. Affected molecules included TNF-α and MCP-1. Levels of cytokine mRNA were affected similarly, suggesting that TMP is acting to prevent gene expression.
TMP partially blocked the production of TNF-α and MCP-1 in vivo in the serum of C57BL6/J mice that were challenged i.p. with LPS.
TMP inhibited the LPS-induced production of lipid mediators and several key inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, both in vitro and in vivo, raising the possibility that TMP might be useful as a treatment for a variety of inflammatory disorders.
PMCID: PMC2631502  PMID: 19133137
18.  Methanolic Extract of Asterina pectinifera inhibits LPS-Induced Inflammatory Mediators in Murine Macrophage 
Toxicological Research  2010;26(1):37-46.
This study aimed to elucidate anti-inflammatory activities from extracts of Asterina pectinifera on nitric oxide (NO) production, TNF-α and IL-6 release in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) -stimulated murine macrophage cell, RAW264.7. We prepared the methanolic extracts (60-MAP, 70-MAP, 80-MAP and 90-MAP) , aqueous extract (W-AP) and functional bioactive compound fraction (He-AP and EA-AP) from Asterina pectinifera according to extract method. The 60-MAP, 70-MAP, 80-MAP, 90-MAP and W-AP were significantly suppressed LPS-induced production NO, TNF-α and IL-6 secretion in a concentration-dependent manner (P < 0.05) . Especially, 80-MAP by extracted 80% methanol had the strongest activity in reduction of inflammatory mediators among these extracts. Indeed, to identify active fraction, which contained potential bioactive compounds, from 80-MAP of Asterina pectinifera, we tested anti-inflammatory activity of the He-AP or the EA-AP. The He-AP was next extracted from 80-MAP and the EA-AP were extracted from the other methanol layer except the He-AP. The EA-AP demonstrated a strong anti-inflammatory effect through its ability to reduce NO production and it also inhibited the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-α at low concentration. These results suggested that the methanolic extract from Asterina pectinifera had the potential inhibitory effects on the production of these inflammatory mediators.
PMCID: PMC3834460  PMID: 24278504
Asterina pectinifera; Methanolic extract; Aqueous extract; LPS; RAW 264.7 cell; Antiinflammatory activity; Nitric oxide; Pro-inflammatory cytokines
19.  Anti-cancer gallotannin penta-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose is a nanomolar inhibitor of select mammalian DNA polymerases 
Biochemical pharmacology  2010;80(8):1125-1132.
Penta-1,2,3,4,6-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose (PGG) has been shown by us and others to inhibit the in vivo growth of human prostate cancer (PCa) xenografts in athymic nude mice and mouse lung cancer allograft in syngenic mice without evident adverse effect on their body weight. We observed a rapid inhibition of DNA synthesis in S-phase cells in PGG-exposed cancer cells and in PGG-treated isolated nuclei. The purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that PGG inhibits DNA replicative synthesis through a direct inhibition of one or more DNA polymerases (pols). Using purified pols, we show that PGG exhibited a selective inhibition against the activities of B-family replicative pols (α, δ and ε) and Y-family (η, ι and κ) of bypass synthesis pols, and the inhibitory effect of PGG on pol α was the strongest with IC50 value of 13 nM. PGG also inhibited pol β, but the potency was an order of magnitude less than against pol α. PGG inhibition of pol α and κ activity was non-competitive with respect to the DNA template-primer and the dNTP substrate; whereas it inhibited pol β competitively. Docking simulation on pol β, which is the only mammalian pol with solved crystal structure, suggests several favorable interactions with the catalytic pocket/binding site for the incoming dNTP. These results support PGG as a novel inhibitor of select families of mammalian pols by distinct mechanisms, and suggest that the potent pol inhibition may contribute to its anti-cancer efficacy.
PMCID: PMC2943143  PMID: 20599777
penta-1,2,3,4,6-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose (PGG); DNA polymerase (pol); enzyme inhibitor; DNA replication; anticancer effect
20.  Tetra-O-methyl nordihydroguaiaretic acid (Terameprocol) inhibits the NF-κB-dependent transcription of TNF-α and MCP-1/CCL2 genes by preventing RelA from binding its cognate sites on DNA 
Tetra-O-methyl nordihydroguaiaretic acid, also known as terameprocol (TMP), is a naturally occurring phenolic compound found in the resin of the creosote bush. We have shown previously that TMP will suppress production of certain inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and lipids from macrophages following stimulation with LPS or infection with H1N1 influenza virus. In this study our goal was to elucidate the mechanism underlying TMP-mediated suppression of cytokine and chemokine production. We focused our investigations on the response to LPS and the NF-κB protein RelA, a transcription factor whose activity is critical to LPS-responsiveness.
Reporter assays were performed with HEK293 cells overexpressing either TLR-3, -4, or -8 and a plasmid containing the luciferase gene under control of an NF-κB response element. Cells were then treated with LPS, poly(I:C), or resiquimod, and/or TMP, and lysates measured for luciferase activity.
RAW 264.7 cells treated with LPS and/or TMP were used in ChIP and EMSA assays. For ChIP assays, chromatin was prepared and complexes precipitated with anti-NF-κB RelA Ab. Cross-links were reversed, DNA purified, and sequence abundance determined by Q-PCR. For EMSA assays, nuclear extracts were incubated with radiolabeled probes, analyzed by non-denaturing PAGE and visualized by autoradiography.
RAW 264.7 cells treated with LPS and/or TMP were also used in fluorescence microscopy and western blot experiments. Translocation experiments were performed using a primary Ab to NF-κB RelA and a fluorescein-conjugated secondary Ab. Western blots were performed using Abs to IκB-α and phospho-IκB-α. Bands were visualized by chemiluminescence.
In reporter assays with TLR-3, -4, and -8 over-expressing cells, TMP caused strong inhibition of NF-κB-dependent transcription.
ChIP assays showed TMP caused virtually complete inhibition of RelA binding in vivo to promoters for the genes for TNF-α, MCP-1/CCL2, and RANTES/CCL5 although the LPS-dependent synthesis of IκB-α was not inhibited. EMSA assays did not reveal an effect of TMP on the binding of RelA to naked DNA templates in vitro.
TMP did not inhibit the nuclear translocation of NF-κB RelA nor the phosphorylation of IκB-α.
TMP acts indirectly as an inhibitor of NF-κB-dependent transcription by preventing RelA from binding the promoters of certain key cytokine and chemokine genes.
PMCID: PMC3002343  PMID: 21138578
21.  Specific Binding and Characteristics of 18β-Glycyrrhetinic Acid in Rat Brain 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95760.
18β-Glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) is the aglycone of glycyrrhizin that is a component of Glycyrrhiza, and has several pharmacological actions in the central nervous system. Recently, GA has been demonstrated to reach the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier in rats after oral administration of a Glycyrrhiza-containing traditional Japanese medicine, yokukansan. These findings suggest that there are specific binding sites for GA in the brain. Here we show evidence that [3H]GA binds specifically to several brain areas by quantitative autoradiography; the density was higher in the hippocampus, moderate in the caudate putamen, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, olfactory bulb, cerebral cortex, thalamus, and mid brain, and lower in the brain stem and cerebellum. Several kinds of steroids, gap junction-blocking reagents, glutamate transporter-recognized compounds, and glutamate receptor agonists did not inhibit the [3H]GA binding. Microautoradiography showed that the [3H]GA signals in the hippocampus were distributed in small non-neuronal cells similar to astrocytes. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that immunoreactivity of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type-1 (11β-HSD1), a defined molecule recognized by GA, was detected mainly in neurons, moderately in astrocytes, and very slightly in microglial cells, of the hippocampus. These results demonstrate that specific binding sites for GA exist in rat brain tissue, and suggest that the pharmacological actions of GA may be related to 11β-HSD1 in astrocytes. This finding provides important information to understand the pharmacology of GA in the brain.
PMCID: PMC3994142  PMID: 24752617
22.  Downregulation of Programmed Cell Death 4 by Inflammatory Conditions Contributes to the Generation of the Tumor Promoting Microenvironment 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2010;49(9):837-848.
Ample evidence has shown key roles of inflammation in tumor promotion and carcinogenesis, and tumor-associated macrophages are known to promote tumor growth and dissemination. Programmed cell death 4 (Pdcd4) is a novel tumor suppressor, and although various studies have revealed that the functions and expression mechanisms of Pdcd4 in tumor promotion, those in regard to inflammation remain unclear. In the present study, we examined whether inflammatory stimuli regulate Pdcd4 expression. 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) suppressed expression of pdcd4 mRNA in human monocytic cell lines (U937, THP-1). Similarly, the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) downregulated pdcd4 level in mouse RAW264.7 and peritoneal macrophages. Furthermore, conditioned medium from LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages suppressed pdcd4 mRNA in RAW264.7 macrophages, and findings obtained with recombinant tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and TNF-α-specific siRNA suggested that TNF-α partly mediates LPS-triggered Pdcd4 downregulation via an autocrine mechanism. Specific inhibitors of phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) and c-jun N-terminus kinase (JNK) restored LPS-abolished pdcd4 mRNA. Consistently, in MCF7 mammary carcinoma cells, conditioned medium from TPA-differentiated/activated U937 cells suppressed pdcd4 mRNA. Additionally, knockdown of pdcd4 in RAW264.7 macrophages using siRNA significantly enhanced LPS-induced TNF-α protein production, and interferon-γ, CC chemokine ligand (Ccl) 1, Ccl20, and interleukin-10 mRNA expression. These results suggest that Pdcd4 suppresses the induction of these inflammatory mediators. Taken together, loss of Pdcd4 in macrophages may be a critical step in establishing the inflammatory environment while that in tumor cells contributes to tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3472367  PMID: 20607724
Pdcd4; TNF-α; inflammation
23.  Anti-carcinogenic effects of non-polar components containing licochalcone A in roasted licorice root 
Nutrition Research and Practice  2014;8(3):257-266.
Licorice has been shown to possess cancer chemopreventive effects. However, glycyrrhizin, a major component in licorice, was found to interfere with steroid metabolism and cause edema and hypertension. The roasting process of licorice modifies the chemical composition and converts glycyrrhizin to glycyrrhetinic acid. The purpose of this study was to examine the anti-carcinogenic effects of the ethanol extract of roasted licorice (EERL) and to identify the active compound in EERL.
Ethanol and aqueous extracts of roasted and un-roasted licorice were prepared. The active fraction was separated from the methylene chloride (MC)-soluble fraction of EERL and the structure of the purified compound was determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The anti-carcinogenic effects of licorice extracts and licochalcone A was evaluated using a MTT assay, Western blot, flow cytometry, and two-stage skin carcinogenesis model.
EERL was determined to be more potent and efficacious than the ethanol extract of un-roasted licorice in inhibiting the growth of DU145 and MLL prostate cancer cells, as well as HT-29 colon cancer cells. The aqueous extracts of un-roasted and roasted licorice showed minimal effects on cell growth. EERL potently inhibited growth of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast, B16-F10 melanoma, and A375 and A2058 skin cancer cells, whereas EERL slightly stimulated the growth of normal IEC-6 intestinal epithelial cells and CCD118SK fibroblasts. The MC-soluble fraction was more efficacious than EERL in inhibiting DU145 cell growth. Licochalcone A was isolated from the MC fraction and identified as the active compound of EERL. Both EERL and licochalcone A induced apoptosis of DU145 cells. EERL potently inhibited chemically-induced skin papilloma formation in mice.
Non-polar compounds in EERL exert potent anti-carcinogenic effects, and that roasted rather than un-roasted licorice should be favored as a cancer preventive agent, whether being used as an additive to food or medicine preparations.
PMCID: PMC4058558
Roasted licorice roots; apoptosis; licochalcone A; cancer
24.  Synthesis and Proteasome Inhibition of Glycyrrhetinic Acid Derivatives 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2008;16(14):6696-6701.
This study discovered that glycyrrhetinic acid inhibited the human 20S proteasome at 22.3 µM. Esterification of the C-3 hydroxyl group on glycyrrhetinic acid with various carboxylic acid reagents yielded a series of analogs with marked improved potency. Among the derivatives, glycyrrhetinic acid 3-O-isophthalate (17) was the most potent compound with IC50 of 0.22 µM, which was approximately 100-fold more potent than glycyrrhetinic acid.
PMCID: PMC2579312  PMID: 18562200
Glycyrrhetinic acid; proteasome inhibitor; triterpene
25.  The inhibition of lipopolysaccharide-induced macrophage inflammation by 4 compounds in Hypericum perforatum extract is partially dependent on the activation of SOCS3 
Phytochemistry  2012;76:106-116.
Our previous studies found that 4 compounds, namely pseudohypericin, amentoflavone, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid in Hypericum perforatum ethanol extract synergistically inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced macrophage production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Microarray studies led us to hypothesize that these compounds inhibited PGE2 production by activating suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3). In the current study we used siRNA to knockdown the expression of SOCS3 in RAW 264.7 macrophages and investigated the impact of H. perforatum extract and the 4 compounds on inflammatory mediators and cytokines. We found SOCS3 knockdown significantly compromised the inhibition of PGE2 and nitric oxide (NO) by the 4 compounds, but not by the extract. The 4 compounds, but not the extract decreased interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), while both of them lowered interleukine-1β. SOCS3 knockdown further decreased IL-6 and TNF-α. Pseudohypericin was the major contributor to the PGE2 and NO inhibition in cells treated with the 4 compounds and its activity was lost with SOCS3 knockdown. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible NO synthase protein expression were not altered by the treatments, while COX-2 activity was decreased by the extract and the 4 compounds and increased by SOCS3 knockdown. In summary, we demonstrated that the 4 compounds inhibited LPS-induced PGE2 and NO through SOCS3 activation. The reduction of PGE2 can be partially attributed to COX-2 enzyme activity, which was significantly elevated with SOCS3 knockdown. At the same time, our results also suggest that constituents in H. perforatum extract were alleviating LPS-induced macrophage response through SOCS3 independent mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3294117  PMID: 22245632
Hypericum perforatum; Inflammation; Lipopolysaccharide; Macrophage; Nitric oxide; Prostaglandin E2; St. John’s wort; Suppressor of cytokine signaling 3

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