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J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 26;277(17):14884-93. Epub 2002 Feb 12.

Cross-talk between ERK and p38 MAPK mediates selective suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines by transforming growth factor-beta.

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Program in Cell Biology, Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA.


Phagocytosis of apoptotic cells by macrophages results in the production of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), which plays an important role in induction of an anti-inflammatory phenotype and resolution of inflammation. In this study, we show that TGF-beta prevents pro-inflammatory cytokine production through inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and NF-kappaB. Blockade of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling by the MEK-1/2 inhibitor PD 98059 reversed the inhibitory effects of TGF-beta, suggesting that cross-talk between MAPKs is essential for this response. Further investigation indicated that TGF-beta activated ERK, which in turn up-regulated MAPK phosphatase-1, thereby inactivating p38 MAPK. On the other hand, TGF-beta maintained or slightly increased production of the CC chemokine MCP-1, which is regulated predominantly by AP-1. Although SB 203580, an inhibitor of p38 MAPK, and dominant-negative p38 MAPK both increased AP-1 transcription, lack of effect of TGF-beta on lipopolysaccharide-stimulated SAPK/JNK phosphorylation along with a demonstrated inhibition of TGF-beta-induced AP-1 activation by dominant-negative Smad3 suggest that TGF-beta-stimulated AP-1 activation was not caused by inhibition of p38 MAPK but rather through the activation of Smads. Our data provide evidence that TGF-beta selectively inhibits inflammatory cytokine production through cross-talk between MAPKs.

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