The neuropeptide alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) modulates inflammation by inhibiting production of proinflammatory cytokines. Using a plasmid vector encoding alpha-MSH, we examined whether autocrine alpha-MSH inhibits activation of the nuclear transcription factor NF-kappaB, a factor that is essential to expression of proinflammatory cytokines, in human glioma cells (A-172). Electrophoretic mobility shift assays of nuclear extracts demonstrated that NF-kappaB activation induced by lipopolysaccharide was inhibited in glioma cells transfected with alpha-MSH vector. Western blot analysis revealed that this inhibition was linked to preservation of expression of IkappaBalpha protein. Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assay indicated that NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression was suppressed in A-172 cells transfected with alpha-MSH vector. Finally, fluorescence staining confirmed that A-172 cells bear alpha-MSH receptors. The findings are consistent with the idea that, in central nervous system (CNS) inflammation, autocrine alpha-MSH exerts anti-inflammatory actions via modulation of NF-kappaB activation by preservation of IkappaBalpha protein. Based on this action of the peptide, it should be possible to treat neurodegenerative disease, stroke, encephalitis, trauma, and other CNS disorders that have an inflammatory component through gene therapy with alpha-MSH vector.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.