An overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines by activated macrophages/monocytes mediates the injurious sequelae of inflammation, septic shock, tissue injury, and cachexia. We recently synthesized a tetravalent guanylhydrazone compound (CNI-1493) that inhibits cytokine-inducible arginine transport and nitric oxide (NO) production in macrophages, and protects mice against lethal endotoxemia and carrageenan-induced inflammation. During these investigations we noticed that CNI-1493 effectively prevented lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced NO production, even when added in concentrations 10-fold less than required to competitively inhibit L-arginine uptake, suggesting that the suppressive effects of this guanylhydrazone compound might extend to other LPS-induced responses. Here, we report that CNI-1493 suppressed the LPS-stimulated production of proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor [TNF], interleukins 1beta and 6, macrophage inflammatory proteins 1alpha and 1beta) from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Cytokine suppression was specific, in that CNI-1493 did not inhibit either the constitutive synthesis of transforming growth factor beta or the upregulation of major histocompatibility complex class II by interferon gamma (IFN-gamma). In contrast to the macrophage suppressive actions of dexamethasone, which are overridden in the presence of IFN-gamma, CNI-1493 retained its suppressive effects even in the presence of IFN-gamma. The mechanism of cytokine-suppressive action by CNI-1493 was independent of extracellular L-arginine content and NO production and is not restricted to induction by LPS. As a selective inhibitor of macrophage activation that prevents TNF production, this tetravalent guanylhydrazone could be useful in the development of cytokine-suppressive agents for the treatment of diseases mediated by overproduction of cytokines.

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