Anti-inflammatory effects of arbutin in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV2 microglial cells


Objectives and design

Arbutin, which is found in the genus Arctostaphylos, is an anti-oxidant and a depigmenting agent. The present study was designed to validate the anti-inflammatory effect of arbutin.

Materials and methods

The anti-inflammatory properties of arbutin were studied using a lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated murine BV2 microglial cells model. As inflammatory parameters, the production of nitric oxide (NO), inducible NO synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were evaluated. We also examined the expression of ninjurin1 (Ninj1) and the adhesion activity of BV2 cells. Finally, we analyzed the activation of the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway.


Arbutin suppressed LPS-induced production of NO and expression of iNOS and COX-2 in a dose-dependent manner without causing cellular toxicity. Arbutin also significantly reduced generation of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β and TNF-α, and other inflammation-related genes such as MCP-1 and IL-6. Additionally, arbutin suppressed the adhesion activity of BV2 cells and the expression of an important adhesion molecule, Ninj1, in LPS-stimulated murine BV2 cells. Furthermore, arbutin inhibited nuclear translocation and the transcriptional activity of NF-κB.


Taken together, our results suggest that arbutin might be useful for treating the inflammatory and deleterious effects of BV2 microglial cells activation in response to LPS stimulation.

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This work was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) through the Creative Research Initiative Program (R16-2004-001-01001-0) and the Global Research Laboratory Program (2011-0021874).

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hyo-Jong Lee.

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Responsible Editor: Graham Wallace.

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Lee, HJ., Kim, KW. Anti-inflammatory effects of arbutin in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV2 microglial cells. Inflamm. Res. 61, 817–825 (2012).

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  • Arbutin
  • Nitric oxide
  • Cytokines
  • Ninjurin1
  • Inflammation