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Open Access Research article

3,4-Dihydroxytoluene, a metabolite of rutin, inhibits inflammatory responses in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages by reducing the activation of NF-κB signaling

Kang-Yi Su23, Chao Yuan Yu1, Ya-Ping Chen1, Kuo-Feng Hua1 and Yi-Lin Sophia Chen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biotechnology and Animal Science, National Ilan University, Shen-Lung Road, Ilan 260, Taiwan

2 Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Medical Biotechnology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 100, Taiwan

3 Department of Laboratory Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei 100, Taiwan

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:21  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-21

Published: 13 January 2014



Saussurea involucrata (Kar. et Kir.) (S. involucrate), is a rare traditional Chinese medicinal herb. Rutin and hispidulin as well as their metabolites are flavonoids of the flavonol type that abound in S. involucrata, which has been reported to inhibit nonoxidative advanced glycation end products which was involved in physiological inflammation. This study aims to investigate the role of 3,4-dihydroxytoluene (DHT), a metabolite of rutin, in inflammatory inhibition and its involved mechanism.


This study utilized lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated murine macrophage cell line RAW 264.7 as inflammatory model. The inhibitory effects of DHT were evaluated by the expression level of several inflammation markers such as inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in RAW264.7 after LPS treatment. In addition, underlying mechanisms, the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and NF-κB, were also investigated.


Our results showed that DHT significantly suppressed the LPS-induced production of nitric oxide (NO), iNOS, and COX-2 in a dose-dependent manner without cytotoxicity. DHT also reduced the generation of proinflammatory cytokines majorly in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and minor in interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6. In addition, LPS-stimulated I-κBα phosphorylation and degradation followed by translocation of the nuclear factor κB (NF-kB)-p65 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus were attenuated after DHT treatment.


Combined, the results suggest that DHT might exert anti-inflammatory effects in vitro in LPS stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages and is potential in adjuvant treatment in inflammation disease.

Saussurea involucrata; Flavonoid; Anti-inflammation; Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2); Inducible nitric oxide synthase