The overproduction of nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in a variety of pathophysiological processes, including inflammation. Therefore, the suppression of NO production is a promising target in the design of anti-inflammatory agents. In the present study, a series of phthalimide analogs was synthesized, and their anti-inflammatory activities were evaluated using lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated NO production in cultured murine macrophage RAW264.7 cells. A structure-activity relationship study showed that the free hydroxyl group at C-4 and C-6 and the bulkiness of the N-substituted alkyl chain are associated with biological activity. Among the series of phthalimide derivatives, compound IIh exhibited potent inhibitory activity, with an IC50 value of 8.7µg/mL. Further study revealed that the inhibitory activity of compound IIh was correlated with the down-regulation of the mRNA and protein expression of LPS-stimulated inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Compound IIh also suppressed the induction of the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells. The anti-inflammatory activity of compound IIh was also found to be associated with the suppression of the Toll-like receptor (TLR)4 signaling pathway by down-regulating the activation of interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) and interferon-β and signal transducer expression. These findings demonstrate that novel phthalimides might be potential candidates for the development of anti-inflammatory agents.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.