Interleukin 6 (IL-6) and nitric oxide (NO) are important mediators of the inflammatory response. We report that in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), NO exerts a biphasic effect on the expression of IL-6. Using sodium nitroprusside (SNP) and S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO) as NO-donating compounds, we observed that both mRNA and protein levels of IL-6 increased at lower (â‰¥10. Î¼M) and decreased at higher (>100. Î¼M) concentrations of NO donors. Changes in the expression of IL-6 correlated with changes in the activity of NF-ÎºB, which increased at lower and decreased at higher concentrations of both NO donors as shown by the electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). The effects of NO on NF-ÎºB activity were cGMP-dependent because they were reversed in the presence of ODQ, the inhibitor of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), and KT5823, the inhibitor of cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). Moreover, the membrane permeable analog of cGMP (8-Br-cGMP) mimicked the effect of the NO donors. These observations show that NO, depending on its concentration, may act in human PBMCs as a stimulator of IL-6 expression involving the sGC/cGMP/PKG pathway. Â© 2011 Elsevier Ltd.