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J Immunol. 1993 Aug 1;151(3):1482-90.

Induction of MHC class II on human polymorphonuclear neutrophils by granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor, IFN-gamma, and IL-3.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, Albany Medical College, NY 12208.


Polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) have long been thought to be short-lived, terminally differentiated cells incapable of synthesizing significant levels of protein, with their primary function being phagocytosis and the release of cytotoxic compounds. More recently, it has been demonstrated that PMN can produce a number of functionally diverse substances, including IL-1, IL-6, and IL-8. Although PMN express class I MHC Ag, it has not been definitely demonstrated that they can synthesize and express class II Ag. This would suggest that, although PMN can indirectly assist in the induction of an immune response through production of cytokines, they are incapable of acting as APC for CD4+ Th cells. We show that, in the presence of a defined medium (AIM V), human serum, and granulocyte-CSF, nearly 100% of isolated PMN can survive for up to 2 days in vitro. We also show that PMN express MHC class II when present as bystander cells in a monocyte/T cell Ag presentation assay for 44 h. In addition, granulocyte/macrophage CSF (GM-CSF), IFN-gamma, and IL-3 can induce class II on pure cultures of PMN, with GM-CSF appearing to be the most potent of the three cytokines. Furthermore, induction of class II on PMN is distinctly donor dependent, with PMN from some donors repeatedly showing very high, and others very low, induction of class II when treated with GM-CSF. Their potential to express class II suggests that PMN could play a significant role in immunoregulation and disease pathogenesis. The variation in class II induction on PMN from individual donors might explain previous failures to detect class II induction on PMN and could be a factor in the varied susceptibility of different individuals to autoimmune and inflammatory disorders such as the production of antibodies to PMN cytoplasmic components.

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