Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is expressed in renal mesangial cells in response to two principal classes of activating signals that interact in a synergistic fashion. These two groups of activators comprise inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1 beta or tumour necrosis factor alpha and agents that elevate cellular levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP). We examined whether dexamethasone differentially affects iNOS induction in response to IL-1 beta and a membrane-permeable cAMP analogue, N6,O-2′-dibutyryladenosine 3′,5′-phosphate (Bt2cAMP). Nanomolar concentrations of dexamethasone suppress IL-1 beta- as well as Bt2cAMP-induced iNOS protein expression and production of nitrite, the stable end product of nitric oxide (NO) formation. In contrast, dexamethasone prevents induction of iNOS mRNA in response to Bt2cAMP without affecting IL-1 beta-triggered increase in iNOS mRNA levels. These data suggest that dexamethasone acts at different levels, depending on the stimulus used to suppress iNOS induction in mesangial cells.

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