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Neurochem Int. 2003 Jan;42(2):131-7.

Inhibition of LPS-induced iNOS and NO synthesis in primary rat microglial cells.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Freiburg Medical School, D-79104, Freiburg, Germany.


Nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in the etiopathology of multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and inhibition of NO synthesis has been proposed to be a possible mechanism of action of drugs to treat MS. In the present study, we investigated the inhibitory effect on NO synthesis of various steroids, cytokines and drugs used or proposed for the treatment of MS. As a model system, we used primary rat microglial cells which produce NO synthase and subsequently release NO upon stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Among the substances tested, the glucocorticoids prednisone, hydrocortisone, dexamethasone and progesterone as well as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) dose-dependently inhibited LPS-induced nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and NO synthesis. In contrast, COP-1, the phosphodiesterase inhibitors rolipram and pentoxifylline, the cytokines interleukin-10 (IL-10) and interferon-beta (IFN-beta) as well as the steroids beta-estradiol, testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) showed no inhibitory effect. Cholesterol slightly, but not significantly, increased LPS-induced nitric oxide synthesis. We conclude from the present study that with respect to treatment of MS, inhibition of NO synthesis may be an important mechanism of action of glucocorticoids and transforming growth factor-beta, but not of other drugs used or proposed to treat MS.

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