The involvement of protein kinase C and its interaction with interleukin 1 beta in the control of interleukin 6 release by cortical astrocytes was studied. The blockade of protein kinase C catalytic domain, by staurosporine, as well as the desensitization of protein kinase C by short-term phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate pretreatment, increased the basal release of interleukin 6 by rat cortical astrocytes, whereas calphostin C, an antagonist of phorbol ester binding on protein kinase C regulatory domain, did not affect the basal release of the cytokine. The activation of protein kinase C by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate enhanced concentration- and time-dependently interleukin 6 release. This stimulatory action of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate was significantly reduced by staurosporine, by calphostin C and by the desensitization of protein kinase C. Interleukin 1 beta increased interleukin 6 release in a concentration-related manner. Protein kinase C inhibition, by staurosporine or desensitization, potentiated severalfold, whereas calphostin C reduced interleukin 1 beta stimulation of interleukin 6 release. The treatment of cortical astrocytes with both interleukin 1 beta (3 ng/ml) and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (10 nM) caused a synergistic stimulation of interleukin 6 release and its gene expression, an effect that was not relieved by either 20 nM staurospine or by calphostin C but was slightly affected by protein kinase C desensitization. In conclusion, our data show that in rat cortical astrocytes the basal release of interleukin 6 is under a tonic inhibition exerted by a protein kinase C isoform or isoforms sensitive to blockade by staurosporine and desensitization but insensitive to calphostin C.
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