Ultraviolet B (UVB), a harmful environmental factor, is responsible for a variety of skin disorders including skin inflammation through reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammatory mediator production. Here, we investigated the effect of Z-ligustilide (Z-lig), an active ingredient isolated from the medicinal plants Cnidium officinale and Angelica acutiloba, on UVB-induced ROS generation and inflammatory mediator production in normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs) as well as its underlying mechanisms. Z-lig significantly rescued UVB-induced NHEKs damage in a dosage-dependent manner. Pretreatment of NHEKs with Z-lig inhibited UVB-induced ROS production in NHEKs. Both silencing the nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and the supplement of tin protoporphyrin IX (SnPP), a haeme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) inhibitor, cancelled the inhibitory effect of Z-lig on UVB-induced ROS upregulation in NHEKs. Moreover, pretreatment of NHEKs with Z-lig reduced UVB-induced nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)-dependent inflammatory mediators (IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1) production at both mRNA and protein level. In the presence of Z-lig, UVB-induced NF-κB subunit p65 nuclear translocation was abolished, and the IκBα degradation was suppressed. Taken together, these findings suggest that Z-lig can suppress UVB-induced ROS generation through Nrf2/HO-1 upregulation and inflammation by suppressing the NF-κB pathway, suggesting that Z-lig may be beneficial in protecting skin from UVB exposure.
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