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J Biol Chem. 1996 May 10;271(19):11317-24.

Nitric oxide attenuates vascular smooth muscle cell activation by interferon-gamma. The role of constitutive NF-kappa B activity.

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Cardiovascular Division, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Atherogenesis involves cellular immune responses and altered vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) function. Cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1 alpha and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) may contribute to this process by activating SMC. To determine whether the anti-atherogenic mediator, nitric oxide (.NO), can modulate cytokine-induced SMC activation, we investigated the effects of various .NO-generating compounds on the expression of intercellular and vascular cell adhesion molecules (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1). Induction of ICAM-1 expression by IL-1 alpha and VCAM-1 expression by IFN-gamma was attenuated by .NO donors but not by cGMP analogues. Nuclear run-on assays and transfection studies using various VCAM-1 promoter constructs linked to the chloramphenicol acetyl-transferase reporter gene showed that .NO repressed IFN-gamma-induced VCAM-1 gene transcription, in part, through inhibition of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappa B). Electrophoretic mobility shift assay revealed that SMC possess basal constitutive NF-kappa B activity, which was augmented by treatment with IL-1 alpha. In contrast, IFN-gamma induced and activated interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1 but had little effect on basal constitutive NF-kappa B activity. .NO donors had no inhibitory effect on IRF-1 activation but did inhibit basal and IL-1 alpha-stimulated NF-kappa B activation. These findings suggest that the induction of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression requires NF-kappa B activation and that .NO attenuates IFN-gamma-induced VCAM-1 expression primarily by inhibiting basal constitutive NF-kappa B activity in SMC.

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