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Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Jun;6(6):1013-9. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

Reduction of lipopolysaccharide-induced interleukin-6 production by the kappa opioid U50,488 in a mouse monocyte-like cell line.

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Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, P.O. Box 711, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642-8711, USA.


Several studies demonstrate that opioids modulate the immune response via opioid receptors expressed directly on the immune cells themselves. Recently, it has been suggested that the kappa opioid system has a modulatory role in various inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. This modulation may occur via changes in cytokine secretion by monocyte-derived cells. To further study this opioid-immune relationship, we stimulated P388D1 cells, a mouse monocyte-like cell line, with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the presence or absence of the kappa opioid-selective ligand, U50,488. Pretreatment with U50,488 significantly reduced LPS-stimulated interleukin-6 (IL-6) production as measured by ELISA. This effect was mediated by the kappa opioid receptor, because nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI), a kappa-selective antagonist, blocked this inhibition. It is likely that this reduction of IL-6 protein by U50,488 treatment is attributed to decreases in IL-6 mRNA. RT-PCR experiments demonstrated that U50,488 treatment significantly reduced the LPS-mediated increase in IL-6 mRNA and that this effect was also blocked by nor-BNI. Understanding the mechanism behind the reduction of proinflammatory cytokine production by opioids may lead to the development of more effective therapeutics for inflammatory diseases.

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