Research Papers:

Thymol mitigates lipopolysaccharide-induced endometritis by regulating the TLR4- and ROS-mediated NF-κB signaling pathways

Haichong Wu, Kangfeng Jiang, Nannan Yin, Xiaofei Ma, Gan Zhao, Changwei Qiu and Ganzhen Deng _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:20042-20055. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15373

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Haichong Wu1, Kangfeng Jiang1, Nannan Yin1, Xiaofei Ma1, Gan Zhao1, Changwei Qiu1, Ganzhen Deng1

1Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, People’s Republic of China.

Correspondence to:

Ganzhen Deng, email: [email protected]

Keywords: thymol; reactive oxygen species; TLR4; nuclear factor-κB; inflammation

Received: November 01, 2016    Accepted: January 24, 2017     Published: February 16, 2017


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of thymol on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammatory responses and to clarify the potential mechanism of these effects. LPS-induced mouse endometritis was used to confirm the anti-inflammatory action of thymol in vivo. RAW264.7 cells were used to examine the molecular mechanism and targets of thymol in vitro. In vivo, thymol markedly alleviated LPS-induced pathological injury, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and the production of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in mice. Further studies were performed to examine the expression of the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) -mediated nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway. These results showed that the expression of the TLR4-mediated NF-κB pathway was inhibited by thymol treatment. In vitro, we observed that thymol dose-dependently inhibited the expression of TNF-α, IL-1β, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. Moreover, the results obtained from immunofluorescence assays also indicated that thymol dose-dependently suppressed LPS-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Silencing of TLR4 inhibited NF-κB pathway activation. Furthermore, H2O2 treatment increased the phosphorylation of p65 and IκBα, which were decreased when treated with N-acetyl cysteine or thymol. In conclusion, the anti-inflammatory effects of thymol are associated with activation of the TLR4 or ROS signaling pathways, contributing to NF-κB activation, thereby alleviating LPS-induced oxidative and inflammatory responses.

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