Blockade of excessive Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling is a therapeutic approach being actively pursued for many inflammatory diseases. Here we report a Chinese herb-derived compound, sparstolonin B (SsnB), which selectively blocks TLR2- and TLR4-mediated inflammatory signaling. SsnB was isolated from a Chinese herb, Spaganium stoloniferum; its structure was determined by NMR spectroscopy and x-ray crystallography. SsnB effectively inhibited inflammatory cytokine expression in mouse macrophages induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS, a TLR4 ligand), Pam3CSK4 (a TLR1/TLR2 ligand), and Fsl-1 (a TLR2/TLR6 ligand) but not that by poly(I:C) (a TLR3 ligand) or ODN1668 (a TLR9 ligand). It suppressed LPS-induced cytokine secretion from macrophages and diminished phosphorylation of Erk1/2, p38a, IκBα, and JNK in these cells. In THP-1 cells expressing a chimeric receptor CD4-TLR4, which triggers constitutive NF-κB activation, SsnB effectively blunted the NF-κB activity. Co-immunoprecipitation showed that SsnB reduced the association of MyD88 with TLR4 and TLR2, but not that with TLR9, in HEK293T cells and THP-1 cells overexpressing MyD88 and TLRs. Furthermore, administration of SsnB suppressed splenocyte inflammatory cytokine expression in mice challenged with LPS. These results demonstrate that SsnB acts as a selective TLR2 and TLR4 antagonist by blocking the early intracellular events in the TLR2 and TLR4 signaling. Thus, SssB may serve as a promising lead for the development of selective TLR antagonistic agents for inflammatory diseases.
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