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Open Access Research article

Piper betle induces phase I & II genes through Nrf2/ARE signaling pathway in mouse embryonic fibroblasts derived from wild type and Nrf2 knockout cells

Wan Nuraini Wan Hasan1, Mi-Kyoung Kwak2, Suzana Makpol1, Wan Zurinah Wan Ngah1 and Yasmin Anum Mohd Yusof1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 College of Pharmacy, The Catholic University of Korea, Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do 420-743, Korea

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:72  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-72

Published: 23 February 2014



Nuclear factor-erythroid 2 p45 related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a primary transcription factor, protecting cells from oxidative stress by regulating a number of antioxidants and phase II detoxifying enzymes. Dietary components such as sulforaphane in broccoli and quercetin in onions have been shown to be inducers of Nrf2. Piper betle (PB) grows well in tropical climate and the leaves are used in a number of traditional remedies for the treatment of stomach ailments and infections among Asians. The aim of this study was to elucidate the effect of Piper betle (PB) leaves extract in Nrf2 signaling pathway by using 2 types of cells; mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) derived from wild-type (WT) and Nrf2 knockout (N0) mice.


WT and N0 cells were treated with 5 and 10 μg/ml of PB for 10 and 12-h for the determination of nuclear translocation of Nrf2 protein. Luciferase reporter gene activity was performed to evaluate the antioxidant response element (ARE)-induction by PB. Real-time PCR and Western blot were conducted on both WT and N0 cells after PB treatment for the determination of antioxidant enzymes [superoxide dismutase (SOD1) and heme-oxygenase (HO-1)], phase I oxidoreductase enzymes [NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1)] and phase II detoxifying enzyme [glutathione S-transferase (GST)].


Nuclear translocation of Nrf2 by PB in WT cells was better after 10 h incubation compared to 12 h. Real time PCR and Western blot analysis showed increased expressions of Nrf2, NQO1 and GSTA1 genes with corresponding increases in glutathione, NQO1 and HO-1 proteins in WT cells. Reporter gene ARE was stimulated by PB as shown by ARE/luciferase assay. Interestingly, PB induced SOD1 gene and protein expressions in N0 cells but not in WT cells.


The results of this study confirmed that PB activated Nrf2-ARE signaling pathway which subsequently induced some phase I oxidoreductase, phase II detoxifying and antioxidant genes expression via ARE reporter gene involved in the Nrf2 pathway with the exception of SOD1 which may not be dependent on this pathway.

Nrf2; PB; ARE; NQO1; HO-1; GST. SOD1