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J Biol Chem. 2000 Sep 29;275(39):29955-9.

Thrombin induces NO release from cultured rat microglia via protein kinase C, mitogen-activated protein kinase, and NF-kappa B.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, 442-721, Korea.


Microglia, brain resident macrophages, become activated in brains injured due to trauma, ischemia, or neurodegenerative diseases. In this study, we found that thrombin treatment of microglia induced NO release/inducible nitric-oxide synthase expression, a prominent marker of activation. The effect of thrombin on NO release increased dose-dependently within the range of 5-20 units/ml. In immunoblot analyses, inducible nitric-oxide synthase expression was detected within 9 h after thrombin treatment. This effect of thrombin was significantly reduced by protein kinase C inhibitors, such as Go6976, bisindolylmaleimide, and Ro31-8220. Within 15 min, thrombin activated three subtypes of mitogen-activated protein kinases: extracellular signal-regulated kinase, p38, and c-Jun N-terminal kinase/stress-activated protein kinase. Inhibition of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway and p38 reduced the NO release of thrombin-treated microglia. Thrombin also activated nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) within 5 min, and N-acetyl cysteine, an inhibitor of NF-kappaB, reduced NO release. However, thrombin receptor agonist peptide (an agonist of protease activated receptor-1 (PAR-1)), could not mimic the effect of thrombin, and cathepsin G, a PAR-1 inhibitor, did not reduce the effect of thrombin. These results suggest that thrombin can activate microglia via protein kinase C, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and NF-kappaB but that this occurs independently of PAR-1.

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