Glycogen synthase kinase-3β modulation of glucocorticoid responsiveness in COPD

X. Anta Ngkelo, Roland F. Hoffmann, Andrew L. Durham, John A. Marwick, Simone M. Brandenburg, Harold G. De Bruin, Marnix R. Jonker, Christos Rossios, Eleni Tsitsiou, Gaetano Caramori, Marco Contoli, Paolo Casolari, Francesco Monaco, Filippo Andò, Giuseppe Speciale, Iain Kilty, Kian F. Chung, Alberto Papi, Mark A. Lindsay, Nick H T Ten HackenMaarten Van Den Berge, Wim Timens, Peter J. Barnes, Antoon J. Van Oosterhout, Ian M. Adcock, Paul A. Kirkham, Irene H. Heijink

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24 Citations (SciVal)


In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), oxidative stress regulates the inflammatory response of bronchial epithelium and monocytes/macrophages through kinase modulation and has been linked to glucocorticoid unresponsiveness. Glycogen synthase-3β (GSK3β) inactivation plays a key role in mediating signaling processes upon reactive oxygen species (ROS) exposure. We hypothesized that GSK3β is involved in oxidative stress-induced glucocorticoid insensitivity in COPD. We studied levels of phospho-GSK3β -Ser9, a marker of GSK3β inactivation, in lung sections and cultured monocytes and bronchial epithelial cells of COPD patients, control smokers, and nonsmokers. We observed increased levels of phospho-GSK3β -Ser9 in monocytes, alveolar macrophages, and bronchial epithelial cells from COPD patients and control smokers compared with nonsmokers. Pharmacological inactivation of GSK3β did not affect CXCL8 or granulocytemacrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) expression but resulted in glucocorticoid insensitivity in vitro in both inflammatory and structural cells. Further mechanistic studies in monocyte and bronchial epithelial cell lines showed that GSK3β inactivation is a common effector of oxidative stress-induced activation of the MEK/ERK-1/2 and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling pathways leading to glucocorticoid unresponsiveness. In primary monocytes, the mechanism involved modulation of histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) activity in response to GSK3β inactivation. In conclusion, we demonstrate for the first time that ROS-induced glucocorticoid unresponsiveness in COPD is mediated through GSK3β, acting as a ROS-sensitive hub.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L1112-L1123
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2015


  • COPD
  • Epithelial cells
  • Inflammatory responses
  • Monocytes
  • Oxidative stress


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