Carbocysteine restores steroid sensitivity by targeting histone deacetylase 2 in a thiol/GSH-dependent manner

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Steroid insensitivity is commonly observed in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Here, we report the effects and mechanisms of carbocysteine (S-CMC), a mucolytic agent, in cellular and animal models of oxidative stress-mediated steroid insensitivity. The following results were obtained: oxidative stress induced higher levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which are insensitive to dexamethasone (DEX). The failure of DEX was improved by the addition of S-CMC by increasing histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) expression/activity. S-CMC also counteracted the oxidative stress-induced increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and decreases in glutathione (GSH) levels and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. Moreover, oxidative stress-induced events were decreased by the thiol-reducing agent dithiothreitol (DTT), enhanced by the thiol-oxidizing agent diamide, and the ability of DEX was strengthened by DTT. In addition, the oxidative stress-induced decrease in HDAC2 activity was counteracted by S-CMC by increasing thiol/GSH levels, which exhibited a direct interaction with HDAC2. S-CMC treatment increased HDAC2 recruitment and suppressed H4 acetylation of the IL-8 promoter, and this effect was further ablated by addition of buthionine sulfoximine, a specific inhibitor of GSH synthesis. Our results indicate that S-CMC restored steroid sensitivity by increasing HDAC2 expression/activity in a thiol/GSH-dependent manner and suggest that S-CMC may be useful in a combination therapy with glucocorticoids for treatment of steroid-insensitive pulmonary diseases.

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