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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Nov 24;95(24):14196-201.

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha induces adhesion molecule expression through the sphingosine kinase pathway.

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Division of Human Immunology, The Hanson Centre for Cancer Research, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science and University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.


The signaling pathways that couple tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) receptors to functional, especially inflammatory, responses have remained elusive. We report here that TNFalpha induces endothelial cell activation, as measured by the expression of adhesion protein E-selectin and vascular adhesion molecule-1, through the sphingosine kinase (SKase) signaling pathway. Treatment of human umbilical vein endothelial cells with TNFalpha resulted in a rapid SKase activation and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) generation. S1P, but not ceramide or sphingosine, was a potent dose-dependent stimulator of adhesion protein expression. S1P was able to mimic the effect of TNFalpha on endothelial cells leading to extracellular signal-regulated kinases and NF-kappaB activation, whereas ceramide or sphingosine was not. Furthermore, N, N-dimethylsphingosine, an inhibitor of SKase, profoundly inhibited TNFalpha-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinases and NF-kappaB activation and adhesion protein expression. Thus we demonstrate that the SKase pathway through the generation of S1P is critically involved in mediating TNFalpha-induced endothelial cell activation.

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