Kure A, Nakagawa K, Kondo M, Kato S, Kimura F, Watanabe A, Shoji N, Hatanaka S, Tsushida T, Miyazawa T.
Luteolin is a naturally occurring flavone that reportedly has anti-inflammatory effects. Because most luteolin is conjugated following intestinal absorption, free luteolin is likely present at low levels in the body. Therefore, luteolin metabolites are presumably responsible for luteolin bioactivity. Here we confirmed that luteolin glucuronides, especially luteolin-3'-O-glucuronide, are the major metabolites found in plasma after oral administration of luteolin (aglycone) or luteolin glucoside (luteolin-7-O-glucoside) to rats. Luteolin-4'-O-glucuronide and luteolin-7-O-glucuronide were also detectable together with luteolin-3'-O-glucuronide in the liver, kidney, and small intestine. Next, we prepared these luteolin glucuronides and compared the anti-inflammatory effects of luteolin and luteolin glucuronides on gene expression in lipopolysaccharide-treated RAW264.7 cells. Luteolin glucuronides, especially luteolin-7-O-glucuronide, reduced expression of inflammatory genes in the cells, although their effects were weaker than those of luteolin. These results indicate that the active compound responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect of luteolin in vivo would be luteolin glucuronide and/or residual luteolin.