Autocrine activity of interleukin 6 secreted by hepatocarcinoma cell lines.
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Among several rat hepatoma cell lines known to secrete interleukin 6 (IL6), the HTC.JZ1 line stands out as a high-level producer. HTC.JZ1 cells were stimulated to secrete up to fourfold increased amounts of IL6 over 24 hours by treatment with lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Both functional IL6 levels, measured as hepatocyte stimulating factor (HSF) activity, and IL6 mRNA concentrations were increased proportionally by exposure to LPS. Similarly, IL6 mRNA was induced by LPS treatment in cultured primary rat hepatocytes. The induction of Il6 mRNA by LPS was inhibited both in primary hepatocyte and hepatoma cell cultures by treatment with the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone, consistent with the known analogous repression of the IL6 gene by dexamethasone in macrophages, monocytes and fibroblasts. IL6 secreted by HTC.JZ1 cells was utilized as an autocrine inducer of endogenous acute phase gene expression: HTC cells expressed constitutive levels of alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2M) mRNA specified by the major rat acute phase gene, the alpha 2M gene, which is known to be regulated by IL6. By contrast, normal rat liver biopsy material and a number of other rat hepatoma cell lines lacked endogenous IL6 production and showed very low to zero expression of endogenous alpha 2M mRNA. Expression of alpha 2M mRNA in HTC.JZ1 cells was inducible by treatment with LPS. The constitutive and the LPS-induced production of alpha 2M mRNA were significantly reduced (up to 50% inhibition) by addition of an anti IL6 serum to the culture medium and removal of the immune complexes. However, complete neutralization of the alpha 2M-inducing HSF activity could not be obtained with anti-IL6 serum alone, probably because HTC.JZ1 cells secrete comparable quantities of a second HSF activity. This activity, the cytokine leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), is also known to stimulate transcription of the rat alpha 2M gene but was not reactive with anti-IL6 sera. The induction of IL6 mRNA in HTC cells by LPS was regulated at the transcriptional level, as demonstrated by a series of mutagenesis and transfection experiments. Progressive deletion of 5' flanking sequences from the IL6 gene promoter region reduced the basal level, and the LPS-induced promoter activity after transfection into HTC.JZ1 hepatoma cells. IL6 has been shown to act as an autocrine regulator of growth for certain B lymphoid cell lines derived from human multiple myelomas. The results presented here establish that IL6 secreted by certain hepatoma cell lines also acts in an autocrine fashion to induce expression of the endogenous acute phase alpha 2M gene.
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