J Nutr Health.  2020 Oct;53(5):452-463. 10.4163/jnh.2020.53.5.452.

Immunomodulatory effect of the water extract of Aster tataricus through mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway

  • 1Division of Research Program, Scripps Korea Antibody Institute, Chuncheon 24341, Korea


Aster tataricus (AT) is one of the Asteraceae perennial herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. The herb contains various bioactive substances, such as flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and phenolic compounds in the roots, and exhibits a range of effects including anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities. This study compared the immunomodulatory effects of ethanol and water extracts of whole AT, except the roots, and analyzed the molecular mechanisms for the regulatory effects on cytokine secretion from THP-1 cells.
The effects of AT extract on the cell viability and proliferation of THP-1 cells were analyzed using the Cell Counting Kit-8 method. The concentrations of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) in the cell culture supernatant of the AT-treated THP-1 cells were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The protein levels of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa B (IκBα), and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation in the cell lysates were determined by western blotting.
The water extract and the ethanol extract of AT did not affect the cell viability, and increased the proliferation of THP-1 cells significantly compared to the vehicle. The water extract increased the secretion of IL-1β from THP-1 cells in a dose-dependent manner, but the ethanol extract had no effect. The expression of COX-2 and iNOS protein and the phosphorylation of MAPK and Akt were induced in AT-treated cells. In addition, IκBα was degraded by AT in a concentration-dependent manner. IL-1β secretion by AT was reduced by extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitors, while TNF-α secretion was decreased by inhibitors of ERK, p38 MAPK, and JNK. Interestingly, the p38 MAPK inhibitor increased the production of IL-1β by AT further.
The water extract of the above-ground parts of AT contains immunomodulatory bioactive substances that stimulate immune cells through the MAPK signaling pathway.


Aster tataricus; THP-1 cell; IL-1 beta; TNF-alpha; mitogen-activated protein kinase
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