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J Clin Invest. 1995 Jan;95(1):211-8.

Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor contributes to enhanced monocyte survival in chronic atopic dermatitis.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Denver, Colorado 80206.


Evidence suggesting that prolonged effector cell survival may contribute to perpetuation of inflammation prompted us to ask whether monocyte macrophages, the predominate inflammatory cell in the lesion of chronic atopic dermatitis (AD), exhibit enhanced survival in AD. Cultures of peripheral blood monocytes from patients with chronic AD, psoriasis, and from normal (NL) donors were examined for morphologic features and DNA fragmentation characteristic of cells undergoing the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death). Cultures of AD monocytes exhibited a significantly lower incidence of apoptosis than did cultures of NL monocytes (45 vs 68%, P < 0.01), or psoriatic monocytes (45 vs 80%, P < 0.01). Furthermore, AD monocytes were unresponsive to both IL-1, an inhibitor of apoptosis, and IL-4, an enhancer of apoptosis, in comparison to cultured NL monocytes. Of note, GM-CSF in a concentration-dependent fashion, decreased the incidence of apoptosis in NL monocyte cultures and rendered them unresponsive to these cytokines. These findings suggested that GM-CSF may enhance monocyte survival in AD. In support of this hypothesis, AD monocyte cultures produced fivefold more GM-CSF than did cultures of NL monocytes or psoriatic monocytes (P < 0.05). Additionally, there was a significantly greater number of GM-CSF mRNA expressing cells detected by in situ hybridization in biopsies of lesions of chronic AD than in acute AD or NL skin (P < 0.05). Finally, NL monocytes incubated with supernatants obtained from monocytes of AD patients exhibited significant inhibition of apoptosis, an effect that could be ablated by a neutralizing antibody to GM-CSF. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that increased production of GM-CSF by cells from patients with AD inhibits monocyte apoptosis and may contribute to the chronicity of this inflammatory disease.

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