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Open Access Open Badges Research article

A peptidyl-glucosamine derivative affects IKKα kinase activity in human chondrocytes

Anna Scotto d'Abusco1*, Laura Politi1, Cesare Giordano2 and Roberto Scandurra1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemical Sciences, Sapienza University of Roma, P.le Aldo Moro, 5, 00185 Roma, Italy

2 Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, CNR, Sapienza University of Rome, P.le Aldo Moro, 5, 00185 Roma, Italy

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R18  doi:10.1186/ar2920

Published: 29 January 2010



Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) transcription factor regulates several cell signaling pathways, such as differentiation and inflammation, which are both altered in osteoarthritis. Inhibitor κB kinase (IKK)α and IKKβ are kinases involved in the activation of the NF-κB transcription factor. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of glucosamine (GlcN), which is administered in the treatment of osteoarthritis, and of its 2-(N-Acetyl)-L-phenylalanylamido-2-deoxy-β-D-glucose (NAPA) derivative on IKK kinases and, consequently, on NF-κB activation in human chondrocytes.


The human chondrosarcoma cell line HTB-94 and human primary chondrocytes were stimulated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α after pre-treatment with GlcN or NAPA. Gene mRNA expression level was evaluated by real-time PCR. Inhibitor κB protein (IκB)α phosphorylation and p65 nuclear re-localization were analyzed by Western blotting; IKKα nuclear re-localization was also investigated by immunocytochemistry and Western blotting. IKK kinase activity was studied by in vitro kinase assay.


After TNFα stimulation, the mRNA expression level of some of the genes under NF-κB control, such as interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8, increased, while treatment with GlcN and NAPA reverted the effect. We investigated the possibility that GlcN and NAPA inhibit IKK kinase activity and found that NAPA inhibits the IKKα kinase activity, whereas GlcN does not. Interestingly, both GlcN and NAPA inhibit IKKα nuclear re-localization.


Our results demonstrate that glucosamine and its peptidyl derivative can interfere with NF-κB signaling pathway by inhibiting IKKα activity in human chondrocytes. However, the mechanism of action of the two molecules is not completely overlapping. While NAPA can both specifically inhibit the IKKα kinase activity and IKKα nuclear re-localization, GlcN only acts on IKKα nuclear re-localization.