The anti-inflammatory carbazole, LCY-2-CHO, inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory mediator expression through inhibition of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway in macrophages

Feng-Ming Ho, Chih-Chang Lai, Li-Jiau Huang, Tsun Cheng Kuo, Chien M Chao, Wan-Wan Lin
British Journal of Pharmacology 2004, 141 (6): 1037-47
1. The present study was undertaken to investigate the anti-inflammatory effects of a synthetic compound, LCY-2-CHO, on the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), COX-2, and TNF-alpha in murine RAW264.7 macrophages. 2. Within 1-30 microm, LCY-2-CHO concentration-dependently inhibited lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) formation, with IC(50) values of 2.3, 1, and 0.8 microm, respectively. Accompanying inhibition of LPS-induced iNOS, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and pro-TNF-alpha proteins was observed. 3. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and promoter analyses indicated that iNOS expression was inhibited at the transcriptional level (IC(50)=2.3 microm), that inhibition of COX-2 expression only partially depended on gene transcription (IC(50)=7.6 microm), and that TNF-alpha transcription was unaffected. 4. Transcriptional assays revealed that activation of AP-1, but not NF-kappaB, was concomitantly blocked by LCY-2-CHO. Our results showed that LCY-2-CHO was capable of interfering with post-transcriptional regulation, altering the stability of COX-2 and TNF-alpha mRNAs. 5. Since the 3'-untranslated region (3' UTR) of both COX-2 and TNF-alpha mRNA contains a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-regulated element involved in mRNA stability, we assessed the effect of LCY-2-CHO on p38 MAPK. Our data clearly indicated an inhibition (IC(50)=1.7 microm) of LPS-mediated p38 MAPK activity, but not of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) or c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity. However, kinase assays ruled out a direct inhibition of p38 MAPK action. The selective p38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, inhibited the promoter activities of iNOS and COX-2 rather than that of TNF-alpha. 6. In conclusion, LCY-2-CHO downregulates inflammatory iNOS, COX-2, and TNF-alpha gene expression in macrophages through interfering with p38 MAPK and AP-1 activation.

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