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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Stimulation of interleukin-6 and prostaglandin E2 secretion from peritoneal macrophages by polymers of albumin.

Interleukin-6 ( IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine that is elevated in vivo during acute infection, chronic inflammation, and some hematopoietic malignancies. To understand how IL-6 becomes elevated in vivo, it is important to identify factors that can stimulate its secretion from effector cells. We found that commercial preparations of bovine serum albumin ( BSA) stimulated murine macrophages to secrete high levels of IL-6. In fact, BSA was at least as potent as bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in stimulating IL-6 production. Stimulation was clearly visible at concentrations as low as 20 micrograms/mL and reached saturation at 0.5 to 1 mg/mL albumin, at which concentration 1.1 x 10(6) oil-elicited macrophages produced 6,000 +/- 700 B9 units of IL-6 in an overnight incubation. Prostaglandin E2 production was induced by the same concentrations of BSA. Both resident and oil-elicited peritoneal cells were responsive to the albumin. The stimulatory activity did not derive from contamination of the protein with Escherichia coli LPS; when compared directly with LPS, the response to BSA was more rapid, had a higher amplitude, and was not inhibitable by polymyxin B. In addition, macrophages isolated from C3H/HeJ mice, which have an inherited defect in their ability to respond to LPS, secreted IL-6 in response to BSA but not to LPS. The stimulatory activity was stable to heat, mild acid, and reduction/alkylation and copurified with albumin on Cibachron Blue agarose (Sigma, St Louis, MO) and anti-albumin immunoaffinity chromatography. Comparison of different sources and preparations of albumin showed differences in the levels of IL-6-inducing activity; three different lots of commercial fatty acid-free BSA and one lot of polymer- enhanced BSA stimulated IL-6 secretion by more than 100-fold over basal levels whereas other preparations showed more limited activity. A sample of BSA that was active in vitro caused a marked elevation of IL-6 when injected into BALB/c mice, thus demonstrating inflammatory activity in vivo. When the albumin preparations were fractionated by ion exchange and gel filtration chromatography and then analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-gel electrophoresis and Western blot immunoassay, it was found that the IL-6-inducing activity resided in high molecular weight polymers of albumin. The ability of albumin polymers to stimulate IL-6 production represents a novel mechanism for modulation of this cytokine.[1]


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