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J Immunol. 1987 Apr 15;138(8):2711-7.

Cytostatic and cytotoxic activity of tumor necrosis factor on human cancer cells.


The cytostatic and cytotoxic activity of human recombinant tumor necrosis factor (rTNF) was assayed on different tumor cell lines. Human BT-20 breast and ME-180 cervix cancer cells were growth-inhibited by rTNF, whereas two other cell lines were not significantly inhibited. However, when protein synthesis was inhibited by cycloheximide, rTNF was cytotoxic for these cells but not for BT-20 cells. This finding suggested that different mechanisms are responsible for the cytostatic and cytotoxic activity of rTNF. The sensitivity of different cell lines to rTNF could not be correlated with a high number or affinity of rTNF receptors. Occupancy of only a few receptors was sufficient for rTNA cytotoxicity, but an increase in receptor number after treatment with interferon-gamma, or a decrease after pretreatment with cycloheximide, correspondingly enhanced or depressed the cytotoxicity of rTNF. It seemed possible that some cells could be protected from this effect of rTNF by synthesizing "protective" proteins. While searching for such proteins, we observed that rTNF induced the synthesis of two polypeptides in SK-MEL-109 melanoma cells, but not in other cancer cells. Actinomycin D added with rTNF abolished synthesis of these polypeptides, suggesting that rTNF induced transcription of the corresponding mRNAs. Surprisingly, rTNF stimulated growth of SK-MEL-109 cells cultured in medium with low serum.

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