Interleukin-6 stimulates Akt and p38 MAPK phosphorylation and fibroblast migration in non-diabetic but not diabetic mice

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Abstract

Persistent inflammatory environment and abnormal macrophage activation are characteristics of chronic diabetic wounds. Here, we attempted to characterize the differences in macrophage activation and temporal variations in cytokine expression in diabetic and non-diabetic wounds, with a focus on interleukin (IL)-6 mRNA expression and the p38 MAPK and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways. Cutaneous wound closure, CD68- and arginase-1 (Arg-1)-expressing macrophages, and cytokine mRNA expression were examined in non-diabetic and streptozotocin-induced type 1 diabetic mice at different time points after injury. The effect of IL-6 on p38 MAPK and Akt phosphorylation was investigated, and an in vitro scratch assay was performed to determine the role of IL-6 in primary skin fibroblast migration. Before injury, mRNA expression levels of the inflammatory markers iNOS, IL-6, and TNF-α were higher in diabetic mice; however, IL-6 expression was significantly lower 6 h post injury in diabetic wounds than that in non-diabetic wounds. Non-diabetic wounds exhibited increased p38 MAPK and Akt phosphorylation; however, no such increase was found in diabetic wounds. In fibroblasts from non-diabetic mice, IL-6 increased the phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and levels of its downstream factor CREB, and also significantly increased Akt phosphorylation and levels of its upstream factor P13K. These effects of IL-6 were not detected in fibroblasts derived from the diabetic mice. In scratch assays, IL-6 stimulated the migration of primary cultured skin fibroblasts from the non-diabetic mice, and the inhibition of p38 MAPK was found to markedly suppress IL-6-stimulated fibroblast migration. These findings underscore the critical differences between diabetic and non-diabetic wounds in terms of macrophage activation, cytokine mRNA expression profile, and involvement of the IL-6-stimulated p38 MAPK-Akt signaling pathway. Aberrant macrophage activation and abnormalities in the cytokine mRNA expression profile during different phases of wound healing should be addressed when designing effective therapeutic modalities for refractory diabetic wounds.

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Shen, T. N. Y., Kanazawa, S., Kado, M., Okada, K., Luo, L., Hayashi, A., … Tanaka, R. (2017). Interleukin-6 stimulates Akt and p38 MAPK phosphorylation and fibroblast migration in non-diabetic but not diabetic mice. PLoS ONE, 12(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178232

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