Signal-transducing mechanisms of ketamine-caused inhibition ofinterleukin-1β gene expression in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated murine macrophage-like Raw 264.7 cells

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Ketamine may affect the host immunity. Interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) are pivotal cytokines produced by macrophages. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of ketamine on the regulation of inflammatory cytokine gene expression, especially IL-1β, in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated murine macrophage-like Raw 264.7 cells and its possible signal-transducing mechanisms. Administration of Raw 264.7 cells with a therapeutic concentration of ketamine (100 μM), LPS, or a combination of ketamine and LPS for 1, 6, and 24 h was not cytotoxic to macrophages. Exposure to 100 μM ketamine decreased the binding affinity of LPS and LPS-binding protein but did not affect LPS-induced RNA and protein synthesis of TLR4. Treatment with LPS significantly increased IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α gene expressions in Raw 264.7 cells. Ketamine at a clinically relevant concentration did not affect the synthesis of these inflammatory cytokines, but significantly decreased LPS-caused increases in these cytokines. Immunoblot analyses, an electrophoretic mobility shift assay, and a reporter luciferase activity assay revealed that ketamine significantly decreased LPS-induced translocation and DNA binding activity of nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB). Administration of LPS sequentially increased the phosphorylations of Ras, Raf, MEK1/2, ERK1/2, and IKK. However, a therapeutic concentration of ketamine alleviated such augmentations. Application of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) small interfering (si)RNA reduced cellular TLR4 amounts and ameliorated LPS-induced RAS activation and IL-1β synthesis. Co-treatment with ketamine and TLR4 siRNA synergistically ameliorated LPS-caused enhancement of IL-1β production. Results of this study show that a therapeutic concentration of ketamine can inhibit gene expression of IL-1β possibly through suppressing TLR4-mediated signal-transducing phosphorylations of Ras, Raf, MEK1/2, ERK1/2, and IKK and subsequent translocation and transactivation of NFκB.

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