Ethyl pyruvate decreases proinflammatory gene expression in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated equine monocytes

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2011 May 15;141(1-2):92-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2011.02.012. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


Monocytes are among the initial cells that interact with circulating LPS. Binding of LPS to monocyte surface receptors triggers an intracellular signaling cascade and results in the production of proinflammatory cytokines. Ethyl pyruvate, a stable derivative of pyruvate, has been effective in mitigating LPS induced alterations in isolated human monocytes. We hypothesized that ethyl pyruvate would suppress proinflammatory gene expression in LPS-stimulated equine monocytes without affecting cell viability. Equine monocytes were isolated from whole blood using a sediment-gradient centrifugation protocol and enriched to 76% purity by adhesion to tissue culture dishes. Isolated monocytes were incubated with 0, 1, 5, 10 and 50 mM ethyl pyruvate. Cell viability, production of caspase 3/7, and caspase-3 gene expression were determined. In a separate experiment, monocytes were stimulated with LPS (0.1 ng/ml for 1h) followed by incubation with 0, 1, 5, or 10 mM ethyl pyruvate for 1 h. Proinflammatory gene expression was determined by real-time PCR. Ethyl pyruvate at 50 mM adversely affected monocyte viability. Ethyl pyruvate at 10mM or less had no significant effect on monocyte viability, and did not increase activity of caspase 3/7 nor caspase-3 gene expression. Incubation with LPS alone induced a significant upregulation in proinflammatory gene expression. Subsequent treatment of monocytes with ethyl pyruvate significantly reduced IL-8 expression in LPS stimulated monocytes at 5 mM, and IL-8, TNF-α and COX-2 at 10 mM. No beneficial effect on expression of IL-1β or IL-6 was detected. Overall, 10 mM ethyl pyruvate did not adversely affect monocyte viability and suppressed LPS-induced proinflammatory gene expression. Ethyl pyruvate may be a beneficial anti-inflammatory therapy in equine endotoxemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Caspase 7 / metabolism
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Flow Cytometry / veterinary
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Horses
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / veterinary*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Monocytes / physiology
  • Pyruvates / pharmacology*


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Pyruvates
  • ethyl pyruvate
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase 7