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Doxorubicin (DOX) chemotherapy is associated with the release of inflammatory cytokines from macrophages. This has been suggested to be, in part, due to DOX-mediated leakage of endotoxins from gut microflora, which activate Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling in macrophages, causing severe inflammation. However, the direct function of DOX on macrophages is still unknown. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that DOX alone is incapable of stimulating inflammatory response in macrophages. Then, we compared the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin (CUR), resveratrol (RES) and sulforaphane (SFN) against lipopolysaccharide/interferon-gamma (LPS/IFN-γ)-mediated inflammation in the absence or presence of DOX. For this purpose, RAW 264.7 cells were stimulated with LPS/IFN-γ (10 ng/mL/10 U/mL) in the absence or presence of DOX (0.1 µM). Our results showed that DOX alone is incapable of stimulating an inflammatory response in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Furthermore, after 24 h of incubation with LPS/IFN-γ, a significant increase in tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNA levels was observed. Similarly, nitric oxide (NO) production and TNF-α and IL-6 protein levels were significantly upregulated. Moreover, in LPS/IFN-γ-treated macrophages, the microRNAs (miRNAs) miR-146a, miR-155, and miR-21 were significantly overexpressed. Interestingly, upon testing CUR, RES, and SFN against LPS/IFN-γ-mediated inflammation, only SFN was able to significantly reverse the LPS/IFN-γ-mediated induction of iNOS, TNF-α and IL-6 and attenuate miR-146a and miR-155 levels. In conclusion, SFN, at the transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels, exhibits potent immunomodulatory action against LPS/IFN-γ-stimulated macrophages, which may indicate SFN as a potential treatment for DOX-associated inflammation.


In the present study, we hypothesize that, similar to previously published in vivo findings4, DOX by itself does not induce inflammation and that DOX mediates inflammation through a secondary mechanism. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the phytochemicals CUR, RES, and SFN differentially modulate LPS/IFN-γ-mediated inflammation in the absence or presence of DOX. Therefore, the aims of the current study are first to investigate the direct effect of DOX on RAW 264.7 macrophages and determine whether DOX directly stimulates inflammatory signals in these macrophages and, second, to compare the anti-inflammatory effects of the phytochemicals CUR, RES and SFN against LPS/IFN-γ-mediated inflammation in macrophages in the absence or presence of DOX



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