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J Clin Invest. 1988 Jan;81(1):237-44.

Dexamethasone inhibition of interleukin 1 beta production by human monocytes. Posttranscriptional mechanisms.

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Department of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-4283.


Dexamethasone is known to have an inhibitory effect on IL-1 production. To determine the mechanism(s) of this inhibition, adherent human blood monocytes were stimulated with Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (10 micrograms/ml) in the presence of dexamethasone. Nuclear transcription run-off assays showed that LPS induced IL-1 beta gene transcription two- to fourfold and that this induction was unaffected by dexamethasone exposure (10(-5) M). The lack of dexamethasone's transcriptional effects was further supported by the absence of any significant change in IL-1 beta mRNA accumulation between LPS-stimulated monocytes exposed or unexposed to dexamethasone, as determined by Northern blot analysis. Posttranscriptionally, dexamethasone was found to have multiple effects: slight prolongation of IL-1 beta mRNA half-life, moderate inhibition of translation of the IL-1 beta precursor, and profound inhibition of the release of IL-1 beta into the extracellular fluid. The data indicate that IL-1 beta is first translated as the 33,000-D pro-IL-1 beta protein, the predominant intracellular form, and the processed to a 17,500-D IL-1 beta protein before or during extracellular transport. The major inhibitory effects of dexamethasone appear to be directed at the translational and posttranslational steps involved in these events.

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