Cytokine-stimulated inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in astroglia: role of Erk mitogen-activated protein kinase and NF-kappaB

Joshua S Marcus, Sharon L Karackattu, Melissa A Fleegal, Colin Sumners
Glia 2003 January 15, 41 (2): 152-60
Expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), which leads to the production of nitric oxide (NO), is stimulated by proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Here we report on the roles of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases in IL-1beta/TNF-alpha-induced iNOS expression in adult rat astroglia. Cytokine-induced increases in nitrite accumulation (an index of NO production) and iNOS expression were attenuated by inhibition of NF-kappaB with pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC). Similar attenuation of these cytokine-induced responses was produced by inhibition of MAP kinase (MEK), the immediate upstream activator of Erk, using PD098,059. Combined treatment of astroglia with PDTC and PD098,059 completely abolished the cytokine-induced increases in iNOS expression and nitrite accumulation. By contrast, the selective p38 kinase inhibitor SB203,580 amplified the effects of IL-1beta/TNF-alpha on nitrite accumulation. In accordance with these findings, IL-1beta- and TNF-alpha-induced a time-dependent increase in Erk1/Erk2 activation. This cytokine action was completely abolished by PD098,059 but was not altered by PDTC. Finally, IL-1beta and TNF-alpha induced degradation of NF-kappaB's bound inhibitory protein, IkappaB-alpha, leading to translocation of NF-kappaB into the nucleus. IkappaB-alpha expression was not restored to control levels by inhibition of MEK. Furthermore, inhibition of MEK with PD098,059 did not alter IL-1beta- and TNF-alpha-induced expression of active NF-kappaB. The results demonstrate that autonomous Erk and NF-kappaB pathways mediate cytokine-induced increases in iNOS expression in astroglia.

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