Protective effects of isohelenin, an inhibitor of nuclear factor κB, in endotoxic shock in rats

M. Sheehan, H. R. Wong, P. W. Hake, B. Zingarelli

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20 Scopus citations


Recent in vitro studies have shown that isohelenin, a sesquiterpene lactone, inhibits the NF-κB pathway. This study examines the effect of isohelenin in endotoxic shock induced by administration of Escherichia coli endotoxin in male Wistar rats. A group of rats received isohelenin (2 mg/kg intraperitoneally) 15 min before endotoxin. In vehicle-treated rats, administration of endotoxin caused severe hypotension, which was associated with a marked hyporeactivity to norepinephrine and acetylcholine in ex vivo aortas. Elevated levels of plasma nitrate/nitrite, metabolites of nitric oxide (NO), were also found. These inflammatory events were preceded by cytosolic degradation of inhibitor-κBα (IκBα) and activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in the lung within 15 min of endotoxin administration. Treatment with isohelenin resulted in hemodynamic improvement and reduced plasma levels of NO metabolites. Nuclear translocation of NF-κB was inhibited by isohelenin treatment in the lung, whereas degradation of IκBα was unchanged. In a separate set of experiments, treatment with isohelenin significantly improved survival in mice challenged with endotoxin. We conclude that isohelenin exerts beneficial therapeutic effects during endotoxic shock through inhibition of NF-κB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endotoxin Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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