We investigated the effects of glutathione trisulfide (GSSSG) on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammatory gene expression in immortalized ARPE-19, and primary human and mouse retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. Sulfane sulfur molecules were significantly increased in GSSSG-treated ARPE-19 cells. GSSSG prevented the LPS-induced upregulation of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and C-C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) in ARPE-19/primary RPE cells. Moreover, GSSSG prevented the activation of the nuclear factor-kappa B p65 subunit, and promoted the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) in LPS-treated ARPE-19 cells. ERK1/2 inhibition prevented the GSSSG-mediated inhibition of LPS-induced IL-6 and CCL2 upregulation. Additionally, ERK1/2 activation prevented the upregulation of these genes in the absence of GSSSG. Knockdown of HMOX1 or NRF2, known as anti-oxidative genes, did not affect the activity of GSSSG in the context of LPS stimulation. These findings suggest that GSSSG attenuates LPS-induced inflammatory gene expression via ERK signaling hyperactivation, independently of the NRF2/HMOX1 pathway.
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