A multifunctional protein metallothionein (MT) is induced by various chemicals and cytokines. We have found novel functions of MT as follows: 1) Cytokine expression such as IL-1α, IL-6, and TNFα responding to lipopolysaccharide is reduced in MT-deficient macrophages compared with in wild-type cells. 2) Nitric oxide production responding to TNFα and LPS is reduced in MT-deficient macrophages compared with in wild-type cells. 3) M-CSF expression responding to zinc is reduced in MT-deficient fibroblasts compared with in wild-type cells, and increased in MT-overexpressed fibroblasts compared with in control cells. 4) LIF, a STAT3 activating cytokine, protects the heart from ischemia/reperfusion injury. Transgenic mice overexpressing STAT3 have tolerance to ischemia/reperfusion-induced damage, whereas MT-null mutation cancels the myocardial protection. In this review, we discuss the relation of MT and stress responses from the point of view of cytokine-induced expression of MT and modulation of cytokine expression by MT.
2007 by the PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF JAPAN