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Apelin, recently identified as an endogenous ligand of the orphan G protein-coupled receptor APJ, has multiple pathophysiological properties. In the present study, we investigated whether pyroglutamated apelin-13 ([Pyr1]-apelin-13), the most highly active isoform among the mature apelin peptide family, modulates the effect of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on cytokine induction in a murine macrophage-like cell line, J774.1 cells. J774.1 cells expressed the APJ protein in a stationary state, and the expression of APJ was not affected by LPS stimulation. No significant effect of [Pyr1]-apelin-13 treatment alone was observed on the proliferation or cytokine production of J774.1 cells in the stationary state. However, prior to LPS stimulation, pretreatment with [Pyr1]apelin-13 for 16 h significantly diminished mRNA expression and protein secretion of inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6, which was confirmed by RT-PCR and ELISA, respectively. Western blot analysis revealed that the phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and c-Jun N-terminal kinase, but not extracellular signal-regulated kinase, which was induced by LPS, significantly decreased in [Pyr1]-apelin-13-pretreated J774.1 cells compared with untreated cells. These observations suggest that [Pyr1]-apelin-13 functions as a negative regulator of LPS-mediated pro-inflammatory responses in macrophages.
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