Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Mar 11;16(3):5572-5589
Microglial activation has been widely demonstrated to mediate inflammatory processes that are crucial in several neurodegenerative disorders. Pharmaceuticals that can deliver direct inhibitory effects on microglia are therefore considered as a potential strategy to counter balance neurodegenerative progression. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a natural phenol in honeybee propolis, is known to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
Accordingly, the current study intended to probe the effects of CAPE on microglia activation by using in vitro and in vivo models. Western blot and Griess reaction assay revealed CAPE significantly inhibited the expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS), cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and the production of nitric oxide (NO). Administration of CAPE resulted in increased expressions of hemeoxygenase (HO)-1and erythropoietin (EPO) in microglia. The phosphorylated adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-α was further found to regulate the anti-inflammatory effects of caffeic acid. In vivo results from immunohistochemistry along with rotarod test also revealed the anti-neuroinflammatory effects of CAPE in microglia activation. The current study has evidenced several possible molecular determinants, AMPKα, EPO, and HO-1, in mediating anti-neuroinflammatory responses in microglial cells.