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Reduction of lung inflammation is one of the goals of cystic fibrosis (CF) therapy. Among anti-inflammatory molecules, glucocorticoids (GC) are one of the most prescribed. However, CF patients seem to be resistant to glucocorticoid treatment. Several molecular mechanisms that contribute to decrease anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids have been identified in pulmonary diseases, but the molecular actions of glucocorticoids have never been studied in CF. In the cytoplasm, glucocorticoids bind to glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and then, control NF-κB and MAPK pathways through direct interaction with AP-1 and NF-κB in the nucleus. Conversely, MAPK can regulate glucocorticoid activation by targeting GR phosphorylation. Together these pathways regulate IL-8 release in the lung. Using bronchial epithelial cell lines derived from non CF and CF patients, we analyzed GR-based effects of glucocorticoids on NF-κB and MAPK pathways, after stimulation with TNF-α. We demonstrate that the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone (Dex) significantly decreases IL-8 secretion, AP-1 and NF-κB activity in CF cells in a pro-inflammatory context. Moreover, we show that p38 MAPK controls IL-8 release by determining GR activation through specific phosphorylation on serine 211. Finally, we demonstrate a synergistic effect of dexamethasone treatment and inhibition of p38 MAPK inducing more than 90% inhibition of IL-8 production in CF cells. All together, these results demonstrate the good responsiveness to glucocorticoids of CF bronchial epithelial cells and the reciprocal link between glucocorticoids and p38 MAPK in the control of CF lung inflammation.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Signal

Publication Date





1093 - 1099


Anisomycin, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Bronchioles, Cell Line, Cystic Fibrosis, Dexamethasone, Enzyme Induction, Epithelial Cells, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Inflammation, Interleukin-8, NF-kappa B, Phosphorylation, Protein Transport, Receptors, Glucocorticoid, Signal Transduction, Transcription Factor AP-1, Transcriptional Activation, p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases