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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Mar 4;105(9):3515-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712381105. Epub 2008 Feb 22.

Interleukin-32 induces the differentiation of monocytes into macrophage-like cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


After emigration from the bone marrow to the peripheral blood, monocytes enter tissues and differentiate into macrophages, the prototype scavenger of the immune system. By ingesting and killing microorganisms and removing cellular debris, macrophages also process antigens as a first step in mounting a specific immune response. IL-32 is a cytokine inducing proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines via p38-MAPK and NF-kappaB. In the present study, we demonstrate that IL-32 induces differentiation of human blood monocytes as well as THP-1 leukemic cells into macrophage-like cells with functional phagocytic activity for live bacteria. Muramyl dipepide (MDP), the ligand for the intracellular nuclear oligomerization domain (NOD) 2 receptor, has no effect on differentiation alone but augments the monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation by IL-32. Unexpectedly, IL-32 reversed GM-CSF/IL-4-induced dendritic cell differentiation to macrophage-like cells. Whereas the induction of TNFalpha, IL-1beta, and IL-6 by IL-32 is mediated by p38-MAPK, IL-32-induced monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation is mediated through nonapoptotic, caspase-3-dependent mechanisms. Thus, IL-32 not only contributes to host responses through the induction of proinflammatory cytokines but also directly affects specific immunity by differentiating monocytes into macrophage-like cells.

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