Background/Aims: Excess production of nitric oxide (NO) by inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) has been implicated as proinflammatory biomarker in liver injury. The application of active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) as a functional food in complementary and alternative medicine has increased. The possibility that AHCC might inhibit iNOS induction was investigated as a potential liver-protective effect. Methods: Hepatocytes were isolated from rats by collagenase perfusion and cultured. Primary cultured hepatocytes were treated with interleukin-1β in the presence or absence of AHCC-sugar fraction (AHCC-SF). Results and Conclusion: AHCC-SF inhibited the production of NO and reduced expressions of iNOS mRNA and its protein. AHCC-SF had no effects on either IĸB degradation or nuclear factor-ĸB (NF-ĸB) activation. In contrast, AHCC-SF inhibited the upregulation of type I interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1RI) through the inhibition of Akt phosphorylation. Transfection experiments with iNOS promoter-luciferase constructs revealed that AHCC-SF reduced the levels of iNOS mRNA at both promoter transactivation and mRNA stabilization steps. AHCC-SF inhibited the expression of iNOS gene antisense transcript, which is involved in iNOS mRNA stabilization. These findings demonstrate that AHCC-SF suppresses iNOS gene expression through a IĸB/NF-ĸB-independent but Akt/IL-1RI-dependent pathway, resulting in the reduction of NO production. AHCC-SF may have therapeutic potential for various liver injuries.

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