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Abstract: Different toxic agents have a varying potential to induce the production of the proinflammatory chemokine, CXCL8 (interleukin [IL]-8), in lung cells. A critical question is which mechanisms determine the magnitude and persistence of the CXCL8 responses to different stimuli. To approach this, we compared the potential of the phorbol ester, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), and sodium fluoride (NaF) to induce CXCL8 responses in A549 cells, with emphasis on the importance of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)- and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. Notably, TPA induced a greater release of CXCL8 than did NaF. Furthermore, TPA induced a strong, rapid, but transient upregulation of CXCL8 messenger (m)RNA, whereas NaF induced a weaker, more delayed, but persistent upregulation. With respect to signaling, TPA led to an early, strong, and relatively transient extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 phosphorylation, and a less marked and even more transient phosphorylation of c-jun-N-terminal kinases (JNK1/2) and p38. In contrast, NaF elicited a lower, but relatively sustained increase in phosphorylation of ERK1/2, and a marked phosphorylation of p38 and JNK1/2, with the JNK1/2 response as most transient. Only ERK1/2 inhibition affected the TPA response, whereas inhibition of all the three MAPK cascades reduced NaF-induced CXCL8 release. TPA also induced an early, marked phosphorylation/translocation of p65 (NF-κB), whereas NaF induced slower, less pronounced effects on p65. The CXCL8 responses by TPA and NaF were reduced by p65-siRNA. In conclusion, all MAPK cascades were involved in NaF-induced CXCL8 release, whereas only ERK1/2 activation was involved in response to TPA. Furthermore, NF-κB activation appeared to be indispensable for CXCL8 induction. The early response, magnitude, and persistency of MAPK and NF-κB signaling seemed to be critical determinants for the potential to induce CXCL8. These findings underscore that a strong, rapid, and relatively transient activation of ERK1/2 in combination with NF-kB may be sufficient for a strong induction of CXCL8, which may exceed the effects of a more moderate ERK1/2 activation in combination with activation of p38, JNK1/2, and NF-κB.
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