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Thromb Haemost. 1998 May;79(5):959-62.

Cytokine gene expression in human LPS- and IFNgamma-stimulated mononuclear cells is inhibited by heparin.

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  • 1Istituto di Clinica Medica Generale e Cardiologia, University of Florence, Italy.


In addition to its well-understood anticoagulant activity, heparin is known to modulate a variety of biological functions including immunologic responses. In order to investigate whether heparin influences the humoral immunity by interacting with cellular elements and affecting gene expression in blood circulating cells. we studied the effect of heparin on IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNFalpha mRNAs in human lipopolysaccharide-(LPS)- or interferon-gamma(IFN-gamma)-stimulated mononuclear cells. The study of mRNA was carried out by an initial PCR screening followed by a Northern blot quantitative analysis. Heparin (0.5 U/ml) turned out to inhibit all three cytokine gene expressions. The mRNA decrease was 37 +/- 6% for IL-1beta, 53 +/- 3% for IL-6 and 47 +/- 4% for TNFalpha with LPS stimulus. No differences could be observed in the inhibitory effect of heparin on IFNgamma-stimulated cells. This effect of heparin was confirmed in a subset of experiments performed on purified monocytes. These results suggest an important immunosuppressive effect of heparin on cell-mediated immune responses.

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