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J Immunol. 2001 Aug 1;167(3):1629-36.

Elevated levels of cyclooxygenase-2 in antigen-stimulated mast cells is associated with minimal activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


We have investigated possible factors that underlie changes in the production of eicosanoids after prolonged exposure of mast cells to Ag. Ag stimulation of cultured RBL-2H3 mast cells resulted in increased expression of cyclooxygenase (COX-2) protein and message. Other eicosanoid-related enzymes, namely COX-1, 5-lipoxygenase, and cytosolic phospholipase A(2) were not induced. Activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase preceded the induction of COX-2, whereas phosphatidylinositol 3' kinase and its substrate, Akt, were constitutively activated in RBL-2H3 cells. Studies with pharmacologic inhibitors indicated that of these kinases, only p38 MAP kinase regulated expression of COX-2. The induction of COX-2 was blocked by the p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB202190, even when added 12-16 h after stimulation with Ag when p38 MAP kinase activity had returned to near basal, but still minimally elevated, levels. Interestingly, expression of COX-2 as well as cytosolic phospholipase A(2) and 5-lipoxygenase were markedly reduced by SB202190 in unstimulated cells. Collectively, the results imply that p38 MAP kinase regulates expression of eicosanoid-related enzymes, passively or actively, at very low levels of activity in RBL-2H3 cells. Also, comparison with published data suggest that different MAP kinases regulate induction of COX-2 in inflammatory cells of different and even similar phenotype and suggest caution in extrapolating results from one type of cell to another.

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