Adenostemma lavenia (L.) Kuntze (Asteraceae) is widely distributed in tropical regions of East Asia, and both A. lavenia and A. madurense (DC) are distributed in Japan. In China and Taiwan, A. lavenia is used as a folk medicine for treating lung congestion, pneumonia, and hepatitis. However, neither phylogenic nor biochemical analysis of this plants has been performed to date. We have reported that the aqueous extract of Japanese A. lavenia contained high levels of ent-11α-hydroxy-15-oxo-kaur-16-en-19-oic acid (11αOH-KA; a kaurenoic acid), which is a potent anti-melanogenic compound. Comparison of chloroplast DNA sequences suggested that A. lavenia is originated from A. madurense. Analyses of kaurenoic acids revealed that Japanese A. lavenia and A. madurense contained high levels of 11αOH-KA and moderate levels of 11α,15OH-KA, while Taiwanese A. lavenia mainly contained 9,11αOH-KA. The diverse biological activities (downregulation of Tyr, tyrosinase, gene expression [anti-melanogenic] and iNOS, inducible nitric oxide synthase, gene expression [anti-inflammatory], and upregulation of HO-1, heme-oxygenase, gene expression [anti-oxidative]) were associated with 11αOH-KA and 9,11αOH-KA but not with 11α,15OH-KA. Additionally, 11αOH-KA and 9,11αOH-KA decreased Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1) protein levels, which was accompanied by upregulation of protein level and transcriptional activity of Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor-2) followed by HO-1 gene expression. 11αOH-KA and 9,11αOH-KA differ from 11α,15OH-KA in terms of the presence of a ketone (αβ-unsaturated carbonyl group, a thiol modulator) at the 15th position; therefore, thiol moieties on the target proteins, including Keap1, may be important for the biological activities of 11αOH-KA and 9,11αOH-KA and A. lavenia extract.
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We thank Mr. Hideki Ohtsuka, a member of the Nature Environment Advisor of Gifu City, for his selection of A. lavenia. This study supported by the Japan Society for The Promotion of Science (JSPS: No. JPJSBP120218102 and 20KK0125) and Gifu University (Acceleration program and Start-up Eco-System).
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Maeda, M., Suzuki, M., Fuchino, H. et al. Diversity of Adenostemma lavenia, multi-potential herbs, and its kaurenoic acid composition between Japan and Taiwan. J Nat Med 76, 132–143 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11418-021-01565-3