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Inhibition of NFkappaB by the natural product Withaferin A in cellular models of Cystic Fibrosis inflammation

ABSTRACT: Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common autosomal genetic disorders in humans. This disease is caused by mutations within a single gene, coding for the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein. The phenotypic hallmark of CF is chronic lung infection and associated inflammation from opportunistic microbes such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), Haemophilus influenzae, and Staphylococcus aureus. This eventually leads to deterioration of lung function and death in most CF patients. Unfortunately, there is no approved therapy for correcting the genetic defect causal to the disease. Hence, controlling inflammation and infection in CF patients are critical to disease management. Accordingly, anti-inflammatory agents and antibiotics are used to manage chronic inflammation and infection in CF patients. However, most of the anti-inflammatory agents in CF have severe limitations due to adverse side effects, and resistance to antibiotics is becoming an even more prominent problem. Thus, new agents that can be used to control chronic inflammation in CF are needed in the absence of a cure for the disease. Activation of the transcription factor NFkappaB through Toll-like receptors (TLR) following bacterial infection is principally involved in regulating lung inflammation in CF. NFkappaB regulates the transcription of several genes that are involved in inflammation, anti-apoptosis and anti-microbial activity, and hyper-activation of this transcription factor leads to a potent inflammatory response. Thus, NFkappaB is a potential anti-inflammatory drug target in CF. Screening of several compounds from natural sources in an in vitro model of CF-related inflammation wherein NFkappaB is activated by filtrates of a clinically isolated strain of PA (PAF) led us to Withaferin A (WFA), a steroidal lactone from the plant Withania Somnifera L. Dunal. Our data demonstrate that WFA blocks PAF-induced activation of NFkappaB as determined using reporter assays, IL-8 measurements and high-content fluorescent imaging of NFkappaB subunit p65 translocation. Since the airways of CF patients can be specifically targeted for delivery of therapeutics, we propose that WFA should be further studied as an anti-inflammatory agent in models of CF related inflammation mediated by NFkappaB


Maitra, R., Porter, M., Huang, S., & Gilmour, B. (2009). Inhibition of NFkappaB by the natural product Withaferin A in cellular models of Cystic Fibrosis inflammation. Journal of Inflammation, 6, 15. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-9255-6-15

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