Previous studies indicated that activation of PKC and Src tyrosine kinases by ischemic preconditioning (PC) may participate in the activation of NF-kappa B. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying activation of NF-kappa B during ischemic PC remain unknown. In the hearts of conscious rabbits, it was found that ischemic PC (6 cycles of 4-min coronary occlusion and 4-min reperfusion) significantly induced both tyrosine (+226.9 +/- 42%) and serine (+137.0 +/- 36%) phosphorylation of the NF-kappa B inhibitory protein I kappa B-alpha, concomitant with increased activation of the I kappa B-alpha kinases IKK alpha (+255.0 +/- 46%) and IKK beta (+173.1 +/- 35%). Furthermore, both tyrosine and serine phosphorylation of I kappa B-alpha were blocked by pretreatment with either the nonreceptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor lavendustin-A (LD-A) or the PKC inhibitor chelerythrine (Che) (both given at doses previously shown to block ischemic PC). Interestingly, Che completely abolished PC-induced activation of IKK alpha/beta, whereas LD-A had no effect. In addition, I kappa B-alpha protein level did not change during ischemic PC. Together, these data indicate that ischemic PC-induced activation of NF-kappa B occurs through both tyrosine and serine phosphorylation of I kappa B-alpha and is regulated by nonreceptor tyrosine kinases and PKC.