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Mol Cell Biol. 1998 Jan;18(1):78-84.

Activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase by sodium salicylate leads to inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-induced IkappaB alpha phosphorylation and degradation.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine, NYU Medical Center, New York 10016, USA.


Many actions of the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) on gene expression are mediated by the transcription factor NF-kappaB. Activation of NF-kappaB by TNF and IL-1 is initiated by the phosphorylation of the inhibitory subunit, IkappaB, which targets IkappaB for degradation and leads to the release of active NF-kappaB. The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug sodium salicylate (NaSal) interferes with TNF-induced NF-kappaB activation by inhibiting phosphorylation and subsequent degradation of the IkappaB alpha protein. Recent evidence indicated that NaSal activates the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), raising the possibility that inhibition of NF-kappaB activation by NaSal is mediated by p38 MAPK. We now show that inhibition of TNF-induced IkappaB alpha phosphorylation and degradation by NaSal is prevented by treatment of cells with SB203580, a highly specific p38 MAPK inhibitor. Both p38 activation and inhibition of TNF-induced IkappaB alpha degradation were seen after only 30 s to 1 min of NaSal treatment. Induction of p38 MAPK activation and inhibition of TNF-induced IkappaB alpha degradation were demonstrated with pharmacologically achievable doses of NaSal. These findings provide evidence for a role of NaSal-induced p38 MAPK activation in the inhibition of TNF signaling and suggest a possible role for the p38 MAPK in the anti-inflammatory actions of salicylates. In addition, these results implicate the p38 MAPK as a possible negative regulator of TNF signaling that leads to NF-kappaB activation.

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