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Anti-Inflammatory Activity of a Novel Family of Aryl Ureas Compounds in an Endotoxin-Induced Airway Epithelial Cell Injury Model

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048468
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cytogenetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Function
  • Microbiology
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Medicine
  • Critical Care And Emergency Medicine
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Sepsis
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Bacterial Diseases
  • Escherichia Coli
  • Pulmonology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Pharmacology


Background Despite our increased understanding of the mechanisms involved in acute lung injury (ALI) and the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), there is no specific pharmacological treatment of proven benefit. We used a novel screening methodology to examine potential anti-inflammatory effects of a small structure-focused library of synthetic carbamate and urea derivatives in a well established cell model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced ALI/ARDS. Methodology/Principal Findings After a pilot study to develop an in vitro LPS-induced airway epithelial cell injury model, a library of synthetic carbamate and urea derivates was screened against representative panels of human solid tumor cell lines and bacterial and fungal strains. Molecules that were non-cytotoxic and were inactive in terms of antiproliferative and antimicrobial activities were selected to study the effects on LPS-induced inflammatory response in an in vitro cell culture model using A549 human alveolar and BEAS-2B human bronchial cells. These cells were exposed for 18 h to LPS obtained from Escherichia coli, either alone or in combination with the test compounds. The LPS antagonists rhein and emodin were used as reference compounds. The most active compound (CKT0103) was selected as the lead compound and the impact of CKT0103 on pro-inflammatory IL-6 and IL-8 cytokine levels, expression of toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4) and nuclear factor kappa B inhibitor alpha (IκBα) was measured. CKT0103 significantly inhibited the synthesis and release of IL-6 and IL-8 induced by LPS. This suppression was associated with inhibition of TLR4 up-regulation and IκBα down-regulation. Immunocytochemical staining for TLR4 and IκBα supported these findings. Conclusions/Significance Using a novel screening methodology, we identified a compound – CKT0103 – with potent anti-inflammatory effects. These findings suggest that CKT0103 is a potential target for the treatment of the acute phase of sepsis and sepsis-induced ALI/ARDS.

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