Inhibition of interleukin-12 expression in diltiazem-treated dendritic cells through the reduction of nuclear factor-κB transcriptional activity

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Diltiazem is a calcium channel blocker that suppresses the activation of a variety of immune cells, such as T and B cells, NK cells, monocytes and dendritic cells (DCs). It has been used in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders and has been widely included in clinical protocols to prevent rejection after kidney transplantation. In line with these data, we previously showed that diltiazem directly affects maturation of human DCs and the production of IL-12. Here, we extended our analysis studying the effect of diltiazem on the transcription of IL-12 p35 and p40 subunits focusing on the activity of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). A marked reduction of NF-κB binding to the κB sequences present within the p35 and p40 subunit promoters was observed in diltiazem-treated DCs following the stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or CD40L. In order to examine the mechanisms by which NF-κB binding activity is reduced by diltiazem, we analyzed the NF-κB inhibitor, IκBα. No significant differences were observed in the phosphorylation and/or the degradation of IκBα. On the other hand, the subcellular distribution of NF-κB subunits was clearly affected in diltiazem-treated DCs following LPS stimulation, with a reduced nuclear translocation of p65, and RelB, and a nuclear accumulation of p50 subunit. Thus, all together, our data provided evidence that in addition to the inhibition of p65/p50 nuclear translocation, the selective induction and translocation of p50/p50 homodimers is an important mechanism by which diltiazem inhibits NF-κB activity, and in turn, IL-12 expression.

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