Glucocorticoids (GC) display pleiotropic effects on the immune system. Macrophages are a major target for GC action. Here we show that dexamethasone (DEX), a synthetic GC, decreased viability of naïve bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM), involving an apoptotic mechanism. Administration of DEX together with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) protected BMDM against DEX-mediated cell death, suggesting that activated BMDM respond to DEX differently than naïve BMDM. An insight to the molecular basis of LPS actions was provided by a 7 fold increase in mRNA levels of glucocorticoid receptor beta (GRβ), a GR dominant-negative splice variant which inhibits GRα's transcriptional activity. LPS did not inhibit all DEX-mediated effects on BMDM; DEX significantly reduced the percentage of BMDM expressing high levels of the cell surface markers F4/80 and CD11b and led to a decrease in macrophage inflammatory protein 1 alpha (MIP1-α) mRNA and protein levels. These two DEX-mediated effects were not prevented by LPS. Our finding that LPS did not reduce the DEX-induced elevation of glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ), a mediator of GCs anti-inflammatory actions, may provide an underlying mechanism. These findings enable a better understanding of clinical states, such as sepsis, in which macrophages are activated by endotoxins and treatment by GCs is considered.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was performed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree by Yasmin Ohana Haim and by Naamit Deshet Unger at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel. The project was supported by a grant from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to D.N. and a grant from the Open University Research Authority to M.C.S.