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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Jan;35(1):31-41.

Adenosine and cAMP are potent inhibitors of the NF-kappa B pathway downstream of immunoreceptors.

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Department of Molecular Immunology, Institute for Biology III, Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg and Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology, 79108 Freiburg, Germany.


Anergic B lymphocytes exert compromised signal transduction towards the activation of NF-kappa B in response to B cell antigen receptor (BCR) triggering, whereas activation of the ERK pathway appears normal. How this differential down-regulation of the NF-kappa B pathway is regulated remains still elusive. Here, we demonstrate that stimuli known to enhance 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) are capable of selectively suppressing the activation both of NF-kappa B downstream of the BCR and Toll-like receptor 4 in splenic B lymphocytes and of the high-affinity receptor for IgE in BM-derived mast cells. This suppression is accomplished by blocking phosphorylation and subsequent degradation of the inhibitor of NF-kappa B. A cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) inhibitor reverses this suppressive effect, indicating that PKA is a downstream effector of cAMP in this process. Importantly, not only drugs that artificially elevate intracellular cAMP levels, but also the nucleoside adenosine, which is known to be a mediator of cellular distress, inhibit the NF-kappa B pathway. This suggests that adenosine-mediated signals represent an important step in the molecular decision process controlling inflammation versus anergic immune responses.

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