In this study, we evaluated the molecular mechanisms involved in morphine-induced macrophage apoptosis. Both morphine and TGF-β promoted P38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation, and this phosphorylation was inhibited by SB 202190 as well as by SB 203580. Anti-TGF-β Ab as well as naltrexone (an opiate receptor antagonist) inhibited morphine-induced macrophage P38 MAPK phosphorylation. Anti-TGF-β Ab also attenuated morphine-induced p53 as well as inducible NO synthase expression; in contrast, NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, an inhibitor of NO synthase, inhibited morphine-induced P38 MAPK phosphorylation and Bax expression. Morphine also enhanced the expression of both Fas and Fas ligand (FasL), whereas antiFasL Ab prevented morphine-induced macrophage apoptosis. Moreover, naltrexone inhibited morphine-induced FasL expression. In addition, macrophages either deficient in FasL or lacking p53 showed resistance to the effect of morphine. Inhibitors of both caspase-8 and caspase-9 partially prevented the apoptotic effect of morphine on macrophages. In addition, caspase-3 inhibitor prevented morphine-induced macrophage apoptosis. These findings suggest that morphine-induced macrophage apoptosis proceeds through opiate receptors via P38 MAPK phosphorylation. Both TGF-β and inducible NO synthase play an important role in morphine-induced downstream signaling, which seems to activate proteins involved in both extrinsic (Fas and FasL) and intrinsic (p53 and Bax) cell death pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy