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Mol Pharmacol. 2003 Aug;64(2):211-9.

Inhibition of nuclear factor kappaB by phenolic antioxidants: interplay between antioxidant signaling and inflammatory cytokine expression.

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Receptor Biology Laboratory, Toxicology and Molecular Biology Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA.


Phenolic antioxidants inhibit the induction of inflammatory cytokines by inflammatory stimuli. Here, we analyzed the mechanism by which the antioxidants inhibit LPS-induced expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) in macrophages. Hydroquinone and tert-butyl hydroquinone, prototypes of phenolic antioxidants, block lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced transcription of TNFalpha and a nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB-mediated reporter gene expression, suggesting NF-kappaB as a target in the inhibition. Analyses of the NF-kappaB activation pathway revealed that the antioxidants do not inhibit LPS-induced activation of the IkappaB kinase activity, degradation of IkappaBalpha, or translocation of activated NF-kappaB into the nucleus, but they do block the formation of NF-kappaB/DNA binding complexes. In vitro experiments showed that the antioxidants do not directly interfere with DNA binding of NF-kappaB. Structure-activity analyses suggest that inhibition of NF-kappaB function involves the redox cycling property of the antioxidants. These findings implicate a redox-sensitive factor important for the binding of NF-kappaB to its DNA recognition sequence as a target molecule in the inhibition of NF-kappaB function and inflammatory cytokine expression by phenolic antioxidants.

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