• heparin;
  • inflammation;
  • cytokines;
  • nuclear factor-κB;
  • monocytes


Unfractionated heparin (UFH) and low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) are well defined anticoagulant agents. Recent data suggest that both LMWH and UFH may also have potent anti-inflammatory properties; however, their mechanism of action responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect is not yet fully elucidated. This study was designed to assess the effect of LMWH and UFH on human monocytes production of inflammatory markers and nuclear translocation of nuclear factor (NF)-κB. Cultured monocytes were pretreated for 15 min with LMWH or UFH (10 μg and 1 μg/million cells) before stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at a dose of 1 ng/million cells. Proinflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-8, IL-6 and IL-1β release were subsequently measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at 6 h, and nuclear translocation of the proinflammatory NF-κB was assessed at 2 h. Treatment with pharmacological doses of LMWH and UFH significantly attenuated LPS-induced production of TNF-α, IL-8, IL-6 and IL-1β as well as NF-κB translocation. These results indicate equivalent and significant heparin anti-inflammatory properties at low doses on monocyte-mediated immune response. The inhibition of NF-κB activation certainly represents one of the mechanisms by which heparin exerts its anti-inflammatory effect. LMWH and UFH therefore appear as potential therapeutic inhibitors of inflammation.