Sepsis is a life-threatening condition often leading to multiple organ failure for which currently no pharmacological treatment is available. Endothelial cells (EC) are among the first cells to respond to pathogens and inflammatory mediators in sepsis and might be a sentinel target to prevent the occurrence of multiple organ failure. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a Gram-negative bacterial component that induces endothelial expression of inflammatory adhesion molecules, cytokines, and chemokines. This expression is regulated by a network of kinases, the result of which in vivo enables leukocytes to transmigrate from the blood into the underlying tissue, causing organ damage. We hypothesised that besides the known kinase pathways, other kinases are involved in the regulation of EC in response to LPS, and that these can be pharmacologically targeted to inhibit cell activation. Using kinome profiling, we identified 58 tyrosine kinases (TKs) that were active in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) at various timepoints after stimulation with LPS. These included AXL tyrosine kinase (Axl), focal adhesion kinase 1 (FAK1), and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). Using siRNA-based gene knock down, we confirmed that these three TKs mediate LPS-induced endothelial inflammatory activation. Pharmacological inhibition with FAK1 inhibitor FAK14 attenuated LPS-induced endothelial inflammatory activation and leukocyte adhesion partly via blockade of NF-κB activity. Administration of FAK14 after EC exposure to LPS also resulted in inhibition of inflammatory molecule expression. In contrast, inhibition of ALK with FDA-approved inhibitor Ceritinib attenuated LPS-induced endothelial inflammatory activation via a pathway that was independent of NF-κB signalling while it did not affect leukocyte adhesion. Furthermore, Ceritinib administration after start of EC exposure to LPS did not inhibit inflammatory activation. Combined FAK1 and ALK inhibition attenuated LPS-induced endothelial activation in an additive manner, without affecting leukocyte adhesion. Summarising, our findings suggest the involvement of FAK1 and ALK in mediating LPS-induced inflammatory activation of EC. Since pharmacological inhibition of FAK1 attenuated endothelial inflammatory activation after the cells were exposed to LPS, FAK1 represents a promising target for follow up studies.
- Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)
- Endothelial cells (EC)
- Focal adhesion kinase 1 (FAK1)
- Inflammation and signal transduction
- Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)
- Tyrosine kinase activity profiling