Previously, we demonstrated that benznidazole (BZL), known for its antiparasitic action on Trypanosoma cruzi, modulates pro-inflammatory cytokines and NO release in macrophages by inhibiting NF-kappaB. We now proceeded to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which BZL exerts its inhibitory action on NF-kappaB. We demonstrated that the inhibitory effect of BZL is not extended to other macrophage responses, since it did not inhibit other typical hallmarks of macrophage activation such as phagocytosis, MHC-II molecules expression or production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by NADPH oxidase. BZL was able to interfere specifically with the activation of NF-kappaB pathway without affecting AP-1 activation in RAW 264.7 macrophages, not only in LPS-mediated activation, but also for other stimuli, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1beta, TNF-alpha), PMA or H(2)O(2). Also, BZL delayed the activation of p38 MAPK, but not that of ERK1/2 and JNK. Finally, treatment with BZL inhibited IkappaBalpha phosporylation and hence its degradation, whereas it did not block IkappaB kinase (IKK) alpha/beta phosphorylation. Collectively, BZL behaves as a broad range specific inhibitor of NF-kappaB activation, independently of the stimuli tested.
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