Induction of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ (PPARγ) mediated gene expression and inhibition of induced nitric oxide production by Maerua subcordata (Gilg) DeWolf

Mebrahtom Gebrelibanos Hiben*, Laura de Haan, Bert Spenkelink, Sebastiaan Wesseling, Jacques Vervoort, Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The health benefits of botanicals is linked to their phytochemicals that often exert pleiotropic effects via targeting multiple molecular signaling pathways such as the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) and the nuclear factor kappaB (NFκB). The PPARs are transcription factors that control metabolic homeostasis and inflammation while the NF-κB is a master regulator of inflammatory genes such as the inducible nitric-oxide synthase that result in nitric oxide (NO) overproduction.
Methods: Extracts of Maerua subcordata (MS) and selected candidate constituents thereof, identified by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectroscopy, were tested for their ability to induce PPARγ mediated gene expression in U2OS-PPARγ cells using luciferase reporter gene assay and also for their ability to inhibit lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced NO production in RAW264.7 macrophages. While measuring the effect of test samples on PPARγ mediated gene expression, a counter assay that used U2OS-Cytotox cells was performed to monitor cytotoxicity or any non-specific changes in luciferase activity.
Results: The results revealed that the fruit, root, and seed extracts were non-cytotoxic up to a concentration of 30 g dry weight per litre (gDW/L) and induced PPARγ mediated gene expression but the leaf extract showed some cytotoxicity and exhibited minimal induction. Instead, all extracts showed concentration (1–15 gDW/L) dependent inhibition of LPS induced NO production. The root extract showed weaker inhibition. Among the candidate constituents, agmatine, stachydrine, trigonelline, indole-3-carboxyaldehyde, plus ethyl-, isobutyl-, isopropyl, and methyl-isothiocyanates showed similar inhibition, and most showed increased inhibition with increasing concentration (1–100 μM) although to a lesser potency than the positive control, aminoguanidine.
Conclusion: The present study demonstrated for the first time the induction of PPARγ mediated gene expression by MS fruit, root, and seed extracts and the inhibition of LPS induced NO production by MS fruit, leaf, root, and seed extracts and some candidate constituents thereof.
Original languageEnglish
Article number80
JournalBMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2020


  • Extracts
  • Gene expression
  • Maerua subcordata
  • Nitric oxide
  • Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARγ)


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