Glutathione inhibits expression of the proinflammatory biomarker inducible nitric oxide synthase in hepatocytes
Background: Intracellular glutathione (GSH) plays an important regulatory role in the host response to liver injury. However, there have been few scientific reports on the anti-inflammatory effects of GSH. In the inflamed liver, proinflammatory cytokines stimulate liver cells, followed by expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Excessive nitric oxide (NO) levels produced by iNOS are one of the factors involved in liver injury. Therefore, inhibiting iNOS induction is important for preventing liver injury. This study aimed to investigate the protective effects of GSH on the liver by examining interleukin (IL)-1β-stimulated hepatocytes.
Methods: Primary cultured rat hepatocytes were treated with IL-1β in the presence or absence of GSH. Induction of iNOS and its signaling pathway were analyzed.
Results: Addition of GSH decreased IL-1β-induced iNOS protein and mRNA expression levels, which resulted in inhibition of NO production. GSH also decreased tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-6 mRNA expression. GSH blocked “type I IL-1 receptor upregulation”, one of the essential signaling pathways for iNOS induction, through inactivation of an upstream kinase, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt. In contrast, GSH had no effects on degradation of IκB and activation of NF-ĸB (nuclear translocation and its DNA binding). Transfection experiments revealed that GSH reduced iNOS mRNA levels at the promoter transactivation and mRNA stabilization steps. Delayed administration of GSH after IL-1β addition also inhibited iNOS induction.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that GSH affects induction of inflammatory mediators, including iNOS and TNF-α, indicating its therapeutic potential for organ injuries, especially for the liver.
Keywords: glutathione, inducible nitric oxide synthase, liver injury, primary cultured hepatocytes, type I interleukin-1 receptor, tumor necrosis factor-α
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