Aim: To investigate whether rimonabant, a cannabinoid receptor antagonist, had inhibitory effects on inflammatory reactions in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Methods: TNF-α-induced IL-6 production was measured by ELISA and effects on related signaling pathways were investigated by immunoblot analysis. Cellular cAMP level was measured using kinase-coupled luciferase reaction. Results: Rimonabant at 1 and 10 mol/L significantly inhibited TNF-α-induced IL-6 production when added 15, 30 and 60 minutes before TNF-α treatment. Rimonabant also inhibited TNF-α-induced phosphorylation of IB kinase (IKK) α/β and IB-α degradation. ACEA, a cannabinoid receptor subtype 1 (CB1) agonist, added before rimonabant abolished the former effects of rimonabant. H-89, an inhibitor of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), abolished the inhibitory effects of rimonabant on TNF-α induced IL-6 production. Rimonabant also increased the phosphorylation of PKA regulatory subunit II (PKA-RII), implying the essential role of PKA activation in the inhibitory effects of rimonabant. Treatment with the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor, wortmannin did not abolish the inhibitory effects of rimonabant on TNF-α induced IL-6 production. Conclusion: Rimonabant had anti-inflammatory effects on endothelial cells and inhibited TNF-α-induced IKKα/β phosphorylation, IB-α degradation and IL-6 production in HUVEC. This effect was related to CB1 antagonism and PKA activation.
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