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Mol Pharmacol. 1993 Feb;43(2):176-82.

Inhibition by glucocorticoids of the formation of interleukin-1 alpha, interleukin-1 beta, and interleukin-6: mediation by decreased mRNA stability.

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  • 1Syntex Research, Palo Alto, California 94304.


The mechanism by which glucocorticoids inhibit interleukin (IL)-1 and IL-6 formation in human monocytes and a promonocytic cell line activated by Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide was analyzed. Dexamethasone (DEX) decreased levels of IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta mRNAs in a dose-related fashion. The DEX-induced decrease in levels of IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta mRNAs was abolished by the steroid receptor antagonist RU486. The levels of IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta proteins within the cells and of IL-1 beta in the culture medium were decreased by DEX to comparable extents, so that DEX had no detectable effect on cytokine secretion. DEX did not influence lipopolysaccharide-induced transcription of the IL-1 beta gene in monocytes. However, DEX markedly decreased the stability of IL-1 beta mRNA, as shown both by steady state measurements and by pulse-labeling. DEX-induced instability of IL-1 beta mRNA required protein synthesis. DEX was also found to be a potent inhibitor of IL-1-induced expression of the IL-6 gene in connective tissue-type cells from the synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Inhibition of the formation of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, is a mechanism by which glucocorticoids exert anti-inflammatory effects. Inhibition by glucocorticoids of the expression of IL-1 alpha in antigen-presenting cells could decrease the capacity of the cells to stimulate the proliferation of T lymphocytes. This activity, as well as inhibition of the production and effects of IL-1 beta, including induced formation of IL-6 and of certain lymphokines, could explain the immunosuppressive effects of glucocorticoids.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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