Zaprinast activates MAPKs, NFκB, and Akt and induces the expressions of inflammatory genes in microglia

Heung Soon Lee, Soon Ho Kwon, Ji Eun Ham, Joo Young Lee, Dong Hoon Kim, Kyung Ho Shin, Sang Hyun Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Previously, the authors reported that zaprinast, an inhibitor of cGMP-selective phosphodiesterases, induced the secretions of TNF-α and IL-1β by microglia and enhanced the induction of iNOS by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In this study, the signaling mechanism responsible for microglial activation by zaprinast was investigated and the effects of zaprinast and LPS on microglial activation were compared. Zaprinast was found to activate ERK1/2, p38 MAPK, JNK, NFκB, and PI3K/Akt, and subsequently, induce the mRNA expressions of IL-1α, IL-1β, TNF-α, CCL2, CCL4, CXCL1, CXCL2, and CD14. Associations between signaling pathways and gene expressions were examined by treating microglia with signal inhibitors. PDTC inhibited the induction of all the above genes by zaprinast, and SB203580 inhibited all genes except CXCL1. SP600125, PD98059, and LY294002 inhibited the induction of at least CCL2. Microglial activation by zaprinast was then compared with full-blown activation by LPS. The zaprinast-induced phosphorylations of MAPKs and IκB were less prompt than LPS-induced phosphorylations. IκB degradation by LPS was significant at 10 min and did not return to normal, whereas zaprinast induced a later, transient degradation. LPS induced the mRNA expressions of IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, CCL2, iNOS, and COX-2, and although zaprinast significantly induced the expressions of all except IL-6 and iNOS, these inductions were far less than those induced by LPS. Collectively, zaprinast was found to upregulate microglial activity mainly via NFκB and p38 MAPK signaling and the subsequent expressions of inflammatory genes. Although, zaprinast was found to have obvious effects on microglia, these were weaker than the effects of LPS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-241
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a Korea University Grant .


  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • MAPKs
  • Microglia
  • NFκB
  • Zaprinast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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