Cholesterols are enriched in the brain and can be oxidized to oxysterols by several processes. Oxysterols are transport forms of cholesterols across cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier. Here, to elucidate the roles of oxysterols in brain inflammation, we treated lipopolysaccharide-stimulated rat brain astrocytes with two oxysterols, 7-ketocholesterol and 22(R)-hydroxycholesterol. Both oxysterols suppressed inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and nitric oxide release as well as upstream signaling molecules including interferon-beta, phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 1/3, and interferon regulatory factor-1. Oxysterols are known as liver X receptor agonists, and inhibitory effects were also observed with synthetic agonists of liver X receptor and retinoid X receptor. Thus, we conclude that it is most likely mediated by liver X receptor/retinoid X receptor heterodimers.
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