Endothelial dysfunction, characterized by changes in eNOS, is a common finding in chronic inflammatory vascular diseases. These states are associated with increased infectious complications. We hypothesized that alterations in eNOS would enhance the response to LPS-mediated TLR4 inflammation. Human microvascular endothelial cells were treated with sepiapterin or N-nitro-L-arginine methylester (L-NAME) to alter endogenous NO production, and small interfering RNA to knockdown eNOS. Alterations of endogenous NO by sepiapterin, and L-NAME provided no significant changes to LPS inflammation. In contrast, eNOS knockdown greatly enhanced endothelial IL-6 production and permeability in response to LPS. Knockdown of eNOS enhanced LPS-induced p38. Inhibition of p38 with SB203580 prevented IL-6 production, without altering permeability. Knockdown of p38 impaired NF-B activation. Physical interaction between p38 and eNOS was demonstrated by immunoprecipitation, suggesting a novel, NO-independent mechanism for eNOS regulation of TLR4. In correlation, biopsy samples in patients with systemic lupus erythematous showed reduced eNOS expression with associated elevations in TLR4 and p38, suggesting an in vivo link. Thus, reduced expression of eNOS, as seen in chronic inflammatory disease, was associated with enhanced TLR4 signaling through p38. This may enhance the response to infection in patients with chronic inflammatory conditions.-Stark, R. J., Koch, S. R., Choi, H., Mace, E. H., Dikalov, S. I., Sherwood, E. R., Lamb, F. S. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase modulates Toll-like receptor 4-mediated IL-6 production and permeability via nitric oxide-independent signaling.