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J Neurochem. 1999 Feb;72(2):472-8.

Cytokine induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase in an oligodendrocyte cell line: role of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation.

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Department of Neurology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.


The induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) by proinflammatory cytokines was studied in an oligodendrocyte progenitor cell line in relation to mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation and cytokine-mediated cytotoxicity. When introduced individually to cultures of CG4 cells, the cytokines, i.e., tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha), interleukin-1 (IL-1), and interferon-gamma (IFN gamma), had either minimal (TNF alpha) or no (IL-1 and IFN gamma) detectable stimulatory effect on the production of nitric oxide. However, combinations of these factors, in particular, TNF alpha plus IFN gamma, elicited a strong enhancement of nitric oxide synthesis and, as revealed by western blot and RT-PCR analysis, the expression of iNOS. TNF alpha and IL-1 were able to activate p38 MAPK in a time- and dose-dependent manner and together showed a combinatorial effect. In contrast, IFN gamma neither activated on its own nor enhanced the activation of p38 MAPK in response to TNF alpha and IL-1. However, a specific inhibitor of p38 MAPK, i.e., SB203580, inhibited the induction of iNOS in cytokine combination-treated cells in a dose-dependent manner, thereby suggesting a role for the MAPK cascade in regulating the induction of iNOS gene expression in cytokine-treated cells. Blocking of nitric oxide production by an inhibitor of iNOS, i.e., nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, had a minimal protective effect against cytokine-mediated cytotoxicity that occurred before the elevation of nitric oxide levels, thereby indicating temporal and functional dissociation of nitric oxide production from cell killing.

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