Inhibition of interleukin-12 and interferon-γ production in immune cells by tanshinones from Salvia miltiorrhiza

Bok Yun Kang, Su Wol Chung, Seung Hyun Kim, Shi Yong Ryu, Tae Sung Kim

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Pharmacological control of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) production may be a key therapeutic strategy for modulating immunological diseases dominated by Th1-derived cytokine responses. In this study, we investigated the effects of three different tanshinone pigments from Salvia miltiorrhiza (tanshinone I, dihydrotanshinone, and cryptotanshinone) on IL-12 production in mouse macrophages and on IFN-γ production in lymph node cells. All tested tanshinones significantly inhibited IL-12 production in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated macrophages and also IFN-γ production in keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH)-primed lymph node cells in a dose-dependent manner. Dihydrotanshinone was more effective than tanshinone I or cryptotanshinone. Tanshinones significantly inhibited the expression of IL-12 p40 gene at the mRNA level. Furthermore, tanshinones potently inhibited the promoter activation of IL-12 p40 gene and nuclear factor (NF)-κB binding to the κB site, suggesting that tanshinones may negatively regulate IL-12 production at the transcription level. These results may explain some known biological activities of tanshinones including their anti-inflammatory effect, and suggest a possible use of tanshinones in the treatment of immunological diseases dominated by Th1-derived cytokine responses. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Oct 5
Externally publishedYes



  • Interferon- γ
  • Interleukin-12
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza
  • T helper cell
  • Tanshinones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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