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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 23;93(15):7849-54.

An essential regulatory role for macrophage migration inhibitory factor in T-cell activation.

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  • 1The Picower Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.


The protein known as macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) was one of the first cytokines to be discovered and was described 30 years ago to be a T-cell-derived factor that inhibited the random migration of macrophages in vitro. A much broader role for MIF has emerged recently as a result of studies that have demonstrated it to be released from the anterior pituitary gland in vivo. MIF also is the first protein that has been identified to be secreted from monocytes/macrophages upon glucocorticoid stimulation. Once released, MIF acts to "override" or counter-regulate the suppressive effects of glucocorticoids on macrophage cytokine production. We report herein that MIF plays an important regulatory role in the activation of T cells induced by mitogenic or antigenic stimuli. Activated T cells produce MIF and neutralizing anti-MIF antibodies inhibit T-cell proliferation and interleukin 2 production in vitro, and suppress antigen-driven T-cell activation and antibody production in vivo. T cells also release MIF in response to glucocorticoid stimulation and MIF acts to override glucocorticoid inhibition of T-cell proliferation and interleukin 2 and interferon gamma production. These studies indicate that MIF acts in concert with glucocorticoids to control T-cell activation and assign a previously unsuspected but critical role for MIF in antigen-specific immune responses.

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