Anti-inflammatory effects of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor U0126 in an asthma mouse model

Wei Duan, Jasmine H P Chan, Chui Hong Wong, Bernard P Leung, W S Fred Wong
Journal of Immunology 2004 June 1, 172 (11): 7053-9
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascade plays a pivotal role in the activation of inflammatory cells. Recent findings revealed that the activity of p42/44 MAPK (also known as extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)) in the lungs was significantly higher in asthmatic mice than in normal controls. We hypothesized that inhibition of ERK activity may have anti-inflammatory effects in allergic asthma. BALB/c mice were sensitized with OVA and, upon OVA aerosol challenge, developed airway eosinophilia, mucus hypersecretion, elevation in cytokine and chemokine levels, up-regulation of VCAM-1 expression, and airway hyperresponsiveness. Intraperitoneal administration of U0126, a specific MAPK/ERK kinase inhibitor, significantly (p < 0.05) inhibited OVA-induced increases in total cell counts, eosinophil counts, and IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and eotaxin levels recovered in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in a dose-dependent manner. U0126 also substantially (p < 0.05) reduced the serum levels of total IgE and OVA-specific IgE and IgG1. Histological studies show that U0126 dramatically inhibited OVA-induced lung tissue eosinophilia, airway mucus production, and expression of VCAM-1 in lung tissues. In addition, U0126 significantly (p < 0.05) suppressed OVA-induced airway hyperresponsiveness to inhaled methacholine in a dose-dependent manner. Western blot analysis of whole lung lysates shows that U0126 markedly attenuated OVA-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of ERK1/2. Taken together, our findings implicate that inhibition of ERK signaling pathway may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of allergic airway inflammation.


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