Intracellular signaling modifications involved in the anti-inflammatory effect of 4-alkoxy-6,9-dichloro[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalines on macrophages

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Inflammation is part of a complex biological response directed by the immune system to fight pathogens and maintain homeostasis. Dysregulation of the inflammatory process leads to development of chronic inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. Several cell types, such as macrophages, and cytokines such as interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) are involved in the regulation of inflammation. The important role played by these cytokines as mediators of the inflammatory process and the side effects of current therapies have promoted the search of new therapeutic alternatives. Quinoxalines are important compounds allowing a wide range of chemical modifications in order to provide an extensive repertoire of biological activities. We have previously shown that a series of 4-alkoxy-6,9-dichloro[1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalines exhibit potent anti-inflammatory activity, inhibiting the production of TNF-α and IL-6. Our aim here was to study the mechanism thereby this series of compounds act upon different intracellular signaling pathways to uncover their potential molecular targets. By using immunoblotting assays, we found that these compounds inhibit ERK 1/2 and JNK/c-Jun cascades, and reduce c-Fos expression, while activate the anti-inflammatory PI3K/Akt route. These results provide further information on their effect upon the intracellular signal transduction mechanisms leading to inhibition of TNF-α and IL-6 secretion. Our results may be of great interest for the pharmaceutical industry, and could be used as a starting point for the development of new and more potent anti-inflammatory drugs derived from the quinoxaline core.

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