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Schmerwitz, Ulrike K.; Sass, Gabriele; Khandoga, Alexander G.; Joore, Jos; Mayer, Bettina A.; Berberich, Nina; Totzke, Frank; Krombach, Fritz; Tiegs, Gisa; Zahler, Stefan; Vollmar, Angelika M.; Fürst, Robert (2011): Flavopiridol Protects Against Inflammation by Attenuating Leukocyte-Endothelial Interaction via Inhibition of Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 9. In: Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, Vol. 31, No. 2: pp. 280-288


Objective: The cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor flavopiridol is currently being tested in clinical trials as anticancer drug. Beyond its cell death–inducing action, we hypothesized that flavopiridol affects inflammatory processes. Therefore, we elucidated the action of flavopiridol on leukocyte–endothelial cell interaction and endothelial activation in vivo and in vitro and studied the underlying molecular mechanisms. Methods and Results: Flavopiridol suppressed concanavalin A–induced hepatitis and neutrophil infiltration into liver tissue. Flavopiridol also inhibited tumor necrosis factor-α–induced leukocyte– endothelial cell interaction in the mouse cremaster muscle. Endothelial cells were found to be the major target of flavopiridol, which blocked the expression of endothelial cell adhesion molecules (intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and E-selectin), as well as NF-κB-dependent transcription. Flavopiridol did not affect inhibitor of κB (IκB) kinase, the degradation and phosphorylation of IκBα, nuclear translocation of p65, or nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) DNA-binding activity. By performing a cellular kinome array and a kinase activity panel, we found LIM domain kinase-1 (LIMK1), casein kinase 2, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), protein kinase Cθ (PKCθ), CDK4, CDK6, CDK8, and CDK9 to be influenced by flavopiridol. Using specific inhibitors, as well as RNA interference (RNAi), we revealed that only CDK9 is responsible for the action of flavopiridol. Conclusion: Our study highlights flavopiridol as a promising antiinflammatory compound and inhibition of CDK9 as a novel approach for the treatment of inflammation-associated diseases.