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Am J Physiol. 1998 Sep;275(3 Pt 2):H1084-91.

Increased levels of myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein promote tolerance to endotoxin.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


Endotoxin [lipopolysaccharide (LPS)] causes tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-mediated myocardial contractile depression. Tolerance to the cardiac toxicity of LPS can be induced by a prior exposure to LPS or by pretreatment with glucocorticoids. The mechanisms by which the myocardium acquires tolerance to LPS remain unknown. LPS causes phosphorylation and degradation of inhibitory kappaB-alpha (IkappaB-alpha), releasing nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) to activate TNF-alpha gene transcription. We hypothesized that LPS induces supranormal synthesis of myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein and thus renders the myocardium tolerant to subsequent LPS. Rats were challenged with LPS after pretreatment with LPS, dexamethasone, or saline. In saline-pretreated rats, LPS caused a rapid decrease in myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein levels, activation of NF-kappaB, and increased TNF-alpha production. These events were followed by myocardial contractile depression. After the initial decrease in myocardial IkappaB-alpha, IkappaB-alpha protein levels rebounded to a level greater than control levels by 24 h. Dexamethasone pretreatment similarly increased myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein levels. In rats pretreated with either LPS or dexamethasone, myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein levels remained similar to control levels after LPS challenge. The preserved level of myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein was associated with diminished NF-kappaB activation, attenuated myocardial TNF-alpha production, and improved cardiac contractility. We conclude that LPS and dexamethasone upregulate myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein expression and that an increased level of myocardial IkappaB-alpha protein may promote cardiac tolerance to LPS by inhibition of NF-kappaB intranuclear translocation and myocardial TNF-alpha production.

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