Synthetic glucocorticoids (GCs) potently inhibit the expression of pro-inflammatory genes and are widely used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. However, some patients are resistant to the therapeutic effects of GCs, and many suffer deleterious side effects from these drugs. Furthermore, the precise mechanisms by which GCs inhibit pro-inflammatory gene expression remain unclear. A number of recent papers report that GCs induce the sustained expression of MAP kinase (MAPK) phosphatase 1 (MKP-1), a negative regulator of MAPK signal transduction pathways. The potential relevance of MKP-1 to some of the biological effects of GCs is discussed.
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