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Endocrinology. 2009 Oct;150(10):4606-14. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-1810. Epub 2009 Jul 23.

Activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B by corticotropin-releasing factor in human monocytes.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Children's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) exerts proinflammatory effects in peripheral tissues, whereas the intracellular pathways mediating these effects have not been completely characterized yet. We have previously shown that CRF induces nuclear factor-kappaB DNA-binding activity in mouse and human leukocytes. Here we demonstrate that in the human monocytic THP-1 cells, CRF activates the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and ERK1/2 pathways. These effects of CRF are mediated by corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 (CRF2), as suggested by their abolishment after treatment with the specific CRF2 antagonist, astressin 2B. The CRF-mediated PI3K/Akt activation induces cell survival as suggested by the stimulation of the antiapoptotic factor Bcl-2. ERK1/2 activation results in up-regulation of IL-8 expression, an effect inhibited by the CRF-induced activation of PI3K/Akt. These studies demonstrate novel effects of CRF in human monocytes mediated by the activation of PI3K/Akt. Moreover, they reveal pathway-specific effects of the CRF/CRF2 system in chemokine activation and cell survival that may be of importance for the development of novel therapeutics for inflammatory diseases.

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