Increasing evidence suggests that lycopene, the major carotenoid present in tomato, may be preventive against smoke-induced cell damage. However, the mechanisms of such a prevention are still unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of lycopene on the production of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-8 induced by cigarette smoke and the possible mechanisms implicated. Therefore, human THP-1 macrophages were exposed to cigarette smoke extract (CSE), alone and following a 6-h pre-treatment with lycopene (0.5-2 μM). CSE enhanced IL-8 production in a time- and a dose-dependent manner. Lycopene pre-treatment resulted in a significant inhibition of CSE-induced IL-8 expression at both mRNA and protein levels. NF-kB controlled the transcription of IL-8 induced by CSE, since PDTC prevented such a production. Lycopene suppressed CSE-induced NF-kB DNA binding, NF-kB/p65 nuclear translocation and phosphorylation of IKKa and IkBa. Such an inhibition was accompanied by a decrease in CSE-induced ROS production and NOX-4 expression. Lycopene further inhibited CSE-induced phosphorylation of the redox-sensitive ERK1/2, JNK and p38 MAPKs. Moreover, the carotenoid increased PPARg levels which, in turn, enhanced PTEN expression and decreased pAKT levels in CSE-exposed cells. Such effects were abolished by the PPARγ inhibitor GW9662. Taken together, our data indicate that lycopene prevented CSE-induced IL-8 production through a mechanism involving an inactivation of NF-kB. NF-kB inactivation was accompanied by an inhibition of redox signalling and an activation of PPARγ signalling. The ability of lycopene in inhibiting IL-8 production, NF-kB/p65 nuclear translocation, and redox signalling and in increasing PPARγ expression was also found in isolated rat alveolar macrophages exposed to CSE. These findings provide novel data on new molecular mechanisms by which lycopene regulates cigarette smoke-driven inflammation in human macrophages.
- Cigarette smoke extract