Effects of FK506 and rapamycin on generation of reactive oxygen species, nitric oxide production and nuclear factor kappa B activation in rat hepatocytes

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We investigated the effect of two immunosuppressant drugs, FK506 and rapamycin, on reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, nitric oxide (NO) production, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activation in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated rat hepatocytes. Primary culture of rat hepatocytes was treated with LPS in the presence and absence of FK506 or rapamycin. LPS increased the release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and nitrite into the culture medium. Western blot and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses demonstrated increased levels of iNOS protein and mRNA. Both immunosuppressant agents inhibited the induction of iNOS mRNA and protein stimulated by LPS. ROS generation, assessed by flow cytometry using dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate, was significantly decreased by FK506 and rapamycin. Moreover, electrophoretic mobility shift assay experiments indicated that both drugs blocked the LPS-induced activation of NF-κB. Inhibitor kappa B protein levels were decreased by LPS and this effect was partly blocked by FK506 or rapamycin. In summary, both immunosuppressant agents decreased the intracellular generation of ROS and inhibited NO production and iNOS expression at mRNA level in association to NF-κB activation. In addition to its capacity to reduce acute allograft rejection, this study highlights the anti-inflammatory properties of FK506 and rapamycin.

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