GTS-21 attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory cytokine production in vitro by modulating the Akt and NF-κB signaling pathway through the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor

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GTS-21, a selective α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist, has recently been established as a promising treatment for inflammation. However, the detailed molecular mechanism of GTS-21 in suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokine production is only partially explored. The study aimed to analyze cytokine expression suppressed by GTS-21 with lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation in vitro and to gain insights into the role of Akt/NF-κB signaling pathway in this process.

Materials and methods:

Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) assay was performed to detect drug cytotoxicity. RAW 264.7 cells were stimulated with LPS and treated with GTS-21. Interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, or tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α production was detected using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Western blot was used to assess the expression patterns of signal transduction protein. Nuclear translocation of nuclear factor (NF)-κB was analyzed by confocal fluorescence microscopy. In addition, α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α7 nAChR) were detected on RAW264.7, and the α7 nAChR-specific antagonist was adopted to verify whether the effect of GTS-21 was mediated by α7 nAChR.


The CCK-8 assay showed that GTS-21 did not significantly affect cell proliferation. The production of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α decreased after being treated with GTS-21 in LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells. GTS-21 also suppressed LPS-induced phosphorylation of NF-κBp65, IKKα/β, IκBα, and Akt, as well as NF-κB p65 nuclear translocation. Moreover, α7 nAChR was expressed on the surfaces of RAW264.7 cells, and the α7 nAChR-specific antagonist almost completely prohibited the inhibitory effect of GTS-21 on NF-κB activation.


These findings indicate that GTS-21 suppresses LPS-induced inflammation by inhibiting the Akt/NF-κB signal pathway through α7 nAChR. GTS-21 has a potential application in inflammatory disease therapy.

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