Influenza A virus (IAV) poses global threats to human health. Acute respiratory distress syndrome and multi-organ dysfunction are major complications in patients with severe influenza infection. This may be explained by the recent studies which highlighted the role of the pulmonary endothelium as the center of innate immune cells recruitment and excessive pro-inflammatory cytokines production. In this report, we examined the potential immunomodulatory effects of two indirubin derivatives, indirubin-3′-(2,3-dihydroxypropyl)-oximether (E804) and indirubin-3′-oxime (E231), on IAV (H9N2) infected-human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (HPMECs). Infection of H9N2 on HPMECs induced a high level of chemokines and cytokines production including IP-10, RANTES, IL-6, IFN-β and IFN-Î 31. Post-treatment of E804 or E231 could significantly suppress the production of these cytokines. H9N2 infection rapidly triggered the activation of innate immunity through phosphorylation of signaling molecules including mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) proteins. Using specific inhibitors or small-interfering RNA, we confirmed that indirubin derivatives can suppress H9N2-induced cytokines production through MAPKs and STAT3 signaling pathways. These results underscore the immunomodulatory effects of indirubin derivatives on pulmonary endothelium and its therapeutic potential on IAV-infection.
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