Dexamethasone inhibits IL-12p40 production in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated human monocytic cells by down-regulating the activity of c-Jun N-terminal kinase, the activation protein-1, and NF-kappa B transcription factors.J Immunol. 2004 Jan 01; 172(1):318-30.JI
IL-12 plays a critical role in the development of cell-mediated immune responses and in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Dexamethasone (DXM), an anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid, has been shown to inhibit IL-12p40 production in LPS-stimulated monocytic cells. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanism by which DXM inhibits IL-12p40 production by studying the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and the key transcription factors involved in human IL-12p40 production in LPS-stimulated monocytic cells. A role for c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) MAPK in LPS-induced IL-12p40 regulation in a promonocytic THP-1/CD14 cell line was demonstrated by using specific inhibitors of JNK activation, SP600125 and a dominant-negative stress-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase-1 mutant. To identify transcription factors regulating IL-12p40 gene transcription, extensive deletion analyses of the IL-12p40 promoter was performed. The results revealed the involvement of a sequence encompassing the AP-1-binding site, in addition to that of NF-kappaB. The role of AP-1 in IL-12p40 transcription was confirmed by using antisense c-fos and c-jun oligonucleotides. Studies conducted to understand the regulation of AP-1 and NF-kappaB activation by JNK MAPK revealed that both DXM and SP600125 inhibited IL-12p40 gene transcription by inhibiting the activation of AP-1 and NF-kappaB transcription factors as revealed by luciferase reporter and gel mobility shift assays. Taken together, our results suggest that DXM may inhibit IL-12p40 production in LPS-stimulated human monocytic cells by down-regulating the activation of JNK MAPK, the AP-1, and NF-kappaB transcription factors.