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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 1979; 76(6): 2779–2783.
PMCID: PMC383692

Human promyelocytic leukemia cells in culture differentiate into macrophage-like cells when treated with a phorbol diester.


When suspension cultures of human promyelocytic leukemia cells (line HL60) were treated with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA; 1.6-160 nM), more than 80% of the cells adhered to the plastic substrate within 24 hr. Within the same time period the immature azurophilic granulations typical of HL60 promyelocytic cells disappeared and the nuclear chromatin became more condensed, but the nucleolus was retained. The attached cells stopped dividing and synthesizing DNA. The phenomenon was irreversible and independent of the continuous presence of TPA. Approximately 60% of the untreated cells and of TPA-treated cells bore surface Fc receptors for IgG. Under the experimental conditions used, about 10% of the TPA-treated cells were also able to phagocytize IgG-coated erythrocytes and more than 80% were able to phagocytize latex beads, but untreated controls were unable to do so. Cellular levels of NADase, acid phosphatase, and non-specific esterase were markedly increased after treatment with TPA, whereas little or no increase was seen after treatment with dimethyl sulfoxide (Me2SO), a drug that induces myeloid differentiation of HL60 cells. Peroxidase activity was lower in TPA-treated and Me2SO-treated cells than in HL60 cells. More lysozyme was found in the medium of TPA-treated cells than in the medium of untreated or Me2SO-treated cells. These data indicate that, after treatment with TPA, human promyelocytic leukemia cells can differentiate into cells that have several characteristics of macrophages.

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Selected References

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