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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The mechanism of low-concentration sodium nitroprusside-mediated protection of chondrocyte death

Hyun A Kim1*, Ki Byoung Lee2 and Sang-cheol Bae3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Kyunggi-do, Korea

2 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Kyunggi-do, Korea

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7:R526-R535  doi:10.1186/ar1705

Published: 1 March 2005


Sodium nitroprusside (SNP), a widely used nitric oxide donor, has recently been shown to mediate chondrocyte apoptosis by generating reactive oxygen species, whereas more potent nitric oxide donors do not induce chondrocyte apoptosis. The present study was performed to investigate the protective effect of a low concentration of SNP upon the cytotoxicity of chondrocytes to higher concentrations of SNP, and to elucidate the underlying mechanism. Human osteoarthritis chondrocytes were cultured as monolayers, and first-passage cells were used for the experiments. Chondrocyte death induced by 1 mM SNP was completely inhibited by pretreating with 0.1 mM SNP. This protective effect of SNP was replicated by the guanosine-3',5'κ-cyclic monophosphate analog, DBcGMP. Protection from chondrocyte death conferred by 0.1 mM SNP was mediated by heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1), as was revealed by the increased expression of HO-1 in 0.1 mM SNP pretreated chondrocytes and by the reversal of this protective effect by the HO-1 inhibitor, zinc protoporphyrin. SNP-mediated chondrocyte protection correlated with the downregulation of both extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2 and p38 kinase activation. SNP at 0.1 mM induced significant NF-κB activation as revealed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays, and the inhibition of NF-κB by MG132 or Bay 11-7082 nullified 0.1 mM SNP-mediated chondrocyte protection. The upregulation of p53 and the downregulation of Bcl-XL and Mcl-1 by 1 mM SNP were reversed by 0.1 mM SNP pretreatment at the protein level by western blotting. Our study shows that priming with 0.1 mM SNP confers complete protection against cell death induced by 1 mM SNP in human articular chondrocytes. This protective effect was found to be correlated with the upregulation of both HO-1 and NF-κB and with the concomitant downregulation of both extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2 and p38 activation.