Inhibition of the oxidative burst in human neutrophils by sphingoid long-chain bases. Role of protein kinase C in activation of the burst Academic Article uri icon


  • The neutrophil oxidative burst is characterized by increased cellular O 2 consumption due to the activation of a membrane-associated superoxide-generating NADPH-oxidase. The response is triggered by a variety of stimuli, including opsonized zymosan, formylmethionylleucinephenylalanine (FMLP), arachidonate, short-chain diacylglycerols, and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). We herein demonstrate that incubation of cells with sphinganine or sphingosine blocks or reverses activation by these agonists. The inhibition is reversible, does not affect cell viability, and does not affect another complex cell function, phagocytosis. Inhibitory concentrations of sphinganine did not significantly affect cytoplasmic calcium levels or FMLP-generated calcium transients. Structural requirements for inhibition of the oxidative burst include a long aliphatic chain and an amino-containing head-group, and there is modest specificity for the native (erythro) isomer of sphinganine. Inhibition involves stimulus-induced activation mechanisms rather than a direct effect on the NADPH oxidase, since sphinganine did not inhibit NADPH-dependent superoxide generation in isolated membranes containing the active enzyme. Activation by FMLP, diacylglycerol, PMA, opsonized zymosan, and arachidonate was blocked by the same concentrations of sphinganine, indicating that these agonists share a common inhibited step. Three lines of evidence indicate that this step involves protein kinase C. First, in a micelle system and in platelets, long-chain bases are inhibitors of this enzyme (Hannun, Y., Loomis, C., Merrill, A., and Bell, R.M. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 12604-12609). Second, sphinganine blocks PMA-stimulated incorporation of 32 PO 4 into neutrophil proteins. Third, sphinganine inhibits the binding of [ 3 H]phorbol dibutyrate to its cellular receptor, known to be protein kinase C. We suggest that long-chain bases function as physiologic modulators of cellular regulatory pathways involving protein kinase C.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Biological Chemistry

author list (cited authors)

  • Wilson, E., Olcott, M. C., Bell, R. M., Merrill, A. H., & Lambeth, J. D.

complete list of authors

  • Wilson, E||Olcott, MC||Bell, RM||Merrill, AH||Lambeth, JD

publication date

  • December 1986