In bone biology, interleukin (IL)-6 is an autocrine/paracrine cytokine which can induce osteoclasts formation and activation to help mediate inflammatory bone destruction. Previous studies have shown that tetracycline and its derivatives have potentially beneficial therapeutic effects in the prevention and treatment of metabolic bone diseases by modulating osteoblast and osteoclast activities. Our previous studies indicated that non-antimicrobial chemically modified tetracyclines (CMTs) can dose-dependently inhibit IL-1 beta-induced IL-6 secretion in osteoblastic cells. In the present study, we explored the molecular mechanisms underlying the ability of doxycycline analogs CMT-8 and its non-chelating pyrazole derivative, CMT-5 to affect IL-6 gene expression in murine osteoblasts. Steady-state IL-6 mRNA was decreased with CMT-8 (ca. 50%) but not by CMT-5 when stimulated by IL-1 beta. CMT-8 regulation of IL-1 beta-induced IL-6 gene expression was further explored. CMT-8 did not affect IL-6 promoter activity in reporter gene assays. However, the IL-6 mRNA stability was decreased in the presence of CMT-8. These effects require de novo protein synthesis as they were inhibited by cycloheximide. Western blot analysis indicated that CMT-8 did not affect p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, c-jun NH(2)-terminal kinases, or extracellular signal-regulated kinases (1 and 2) phosphorylation in response to IL-1 beta. These data suggest that CMT-8 can modulate inhibit IL-1 beta-induced IL-6 expression in MC3T3-E1 cells at the post-transcriptional level affecting IL-6 mRNA stability. These observations may offer a novel molecular basis for this treatment of metabolic bone diseases that are mediated by IL-6.