Pinocembrin protects hemorrhagic brain primarily by inhibiting toll-like receptor 4 and reducing M1 phenotype microglia

Xi Lan, Xiaoning Han, Qian Li, Qiang Li, Yufeng Gao, Tian Cheng, Jieru Wan, Wei Zhu, Jian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Neuroinflammation is a major contributor to intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) progression, but no drug is currently available to reduce this response and protect against ICH-induced injury. Recently, the natural product pinocembrin has been shown to ameliorate neuroinflammation and is undergoing a phase II clinical trial for ischemic stroke treatment. In this study, we examined the efficacy of pinocembrin in an ICH model, and further examined its effect on microglial activation and polarization. In vivo, pinocembrin dose-dependently reduced lesion volume by ∼47.5% and reduced neurologic deficits of mice at 72 h after collagenase-induced ICH. The optimal dose of pinocembrin (5 mg/kg) suppressed microglial activation as evidenced by decreases in CD68-positive microglia and reduced proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6. Pinocembrin also reduced the number of classically activated M1-like microglia without affecting M2-like microglia in the perilesional region. Additionally, pinocembrin decreased the expression of toll-like receptor (TLR)4 and its downstream target proteins TRIF and MyD88. The protection by pinocembrin was lost in microglia-depleted mice and in TLR4lps-del mice, and pinocembrin failed to decrease the number of M1-like microglia in TLR4lps-del mice. In lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV-2 cells or primary microglia, pinocembrin decreased M1-related cytokines and markers (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, and iNOS), NF-κB activation, and TLR4 expression, but it did not interfere with TLR4/MyD88 and TLR4/TRIF interactions or affect microglial phagocytosis of red blood cells. Inhibition of the TLR4 signaling pathway and reduction in M1-like microglial polarization might be the major mechanism by which pinocembrin protects hemorrhagic brain. With anti-inflammatory properties, pinocembrin could be a promising new drug candidate for treating ICH and other acute brain injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-339
Number of pages14
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • Microglial polarization
  • Pinocembrin
  • Toll-like receptor 4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Pinocembrin protects hemorrhagic brain primarily by inhibiting toll-like receptor 4 and reducing M1 phenotype microglia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this