Chronic inflammatory response in the airway tract of patients affected by cystic fibrosis is characterized by an excessive recruitment of neutrophils to the bronchial lumina, driven by the chemokine Interleukin (IL)-8. We previously found that 5-methoxypsoralen reduces P.aeruginosa-dependent IL-8 transcription in bronchial epithelial cell lines, with an IC(50) of 10 μM. Here, we extended the investigation to analogues of 5-methoxypsoralen and we found that the most potent effect is obtained with 4,6,4'-trimethylangelicin (TMA), which inhibits P.aeruginosa-dependent IL-8 transcription at nanomolar concentration in IB3-1, CuFi-1, CFBE41o- and Calu-3 bronchial epithelial cell lines. Analysis of phosphoproteins involved in proinflammatory transmembrane signaling evidenced that TMA reduces the phosphorylation of RSK1 and AKT2/3, which we found indeed involved in P.aeruginosa-dependent activation of IL-8 gene transcription by testing the effect of pharmacological inhibitors. In addition, we found a docking site of TMA into NF-kB by in silico analysis, whereas inhibition of the NF-kB/DNA interactions in vitro by EMSA was observed at high concentrations (10 mM TMA). In order to further understand whether NF-kB pathway should be considered a target of TMA, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation was performed, and we observed that TMA (100 nM) pre-incubated in whole living cells reduced the interaction of NF-kB with the promoter of IL-8 gene. These results suggest that TMA could inhibit IL-8 gene transcription mainly by intervening on driving the recruitment of activated transcription factors on IL-8 gene promoter, as demonstrated here for NF-kB. Although the complete understanding of the mechanism of action of TMA deserves further investigation, an activity of TMA on phosphorylating pathways was already demonstrated by our study. Finally, since psoralens have been shown to potentiate CFTR-mediated chloride transport, TMA was tested and found to potentiate CFTR-dependent chloride efflux. In conclusion, TMA is a dual-acting compound reducing excessive IL-8 expression and potentiating CFTR function
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