Background: Based partially on encouraging findings from preclinical models, interest has grown in therapeutic inhibition of NF-kappaB to limit inflammatory injury during sepsis. However, NF-kappaB also regulates protective responses, and predicting the net survival effects of such inhibition may be difficult.
Objectives: To highlight the caution necessary with this therapeutic approach, we review our investigations in a mouse sepsis model with parthenolide and ethyl pyruvate, two NF-kappaB inhibitors proposed for clinical study.
Results: Consistent with published studies, parthenolide decreased NF-kappaB binding activity and inflammatory cytokine release from lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated RAW 264.7 cells in vitro. In LPS-challenged mice (C57BL/6J), however, while both agents decreased lung and kidney NF-kappaB binding activity and plasma cytokines early (1-3 h), these measures were increased later (6-12 h) in patterns differing significantly over time. Furthermore, despite studying several doses of parthenolide (0.25-4.0 mg/kg) and ethyl pyruvate (0.1-100 mg/kg), each produced small but consistent decreases in survival which overall were significant (p < or = 0.04 for each agent).
Conclusion: While NF-kappaB inhibitors hold promise for inflammatory conditions such as sepsis, caution is necessary. Clear understanding of the net effects of NF-kappaB inhibitors on outcome will be necessary before such agents are used clinically.