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Blood. 2003 Aug 15;102(4):1515-24. Epub 2003 Apr 10.

Mechanism of monocyte activation and expression of proinflammatory cytochemokines by placenta growth factor.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033, USA.


Monocytes from patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) are in an activated state. However, the mechanism of activation of monocytes in SCD is not known. Our studies showed that placenta growth factor (PlGF) activated monocytes and increased mRNA levels of cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-alpha] and interleukin-1beta [IL-1beta]) and chemokines (monocyte chemotactic protein-1 [MCP-1], IL-8, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1beta [MIP-1beta]) in both normal monocytes and in the THP-1 monocytic cell line. This increase in mRNA expression of cytochemokines was also reflected in monocytes derived from subjects with SCD. We studied the PlGF-mediated downstream cellular signaling events that caused increased transcription of inflammatory cytochemokines and chemotaxis of THP-1 monocytes. PlGF-mediated cytochemokine mRNA and protein expression was inhibited by PD98059 and wortmannin, inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MAPK/MEK) kinase and phosphatidylinositol-3 (PI3) kinase, respectively, but not by SB203580, a p38 kinase inhibitor. PlGF caused a time-dependent transient increase in phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK-1/2), which was completely inhibited by wortmannin, indicating that activation of PI3 kinase preceded MEK activation. PlGF also induced transient phosphorylation of AKT. MEK and PI3 kinase inhibitors and antibody to Flt-1 abrogated PlGF-induced chemotaxis of THP-1 monocytes. Overexpression of a dominant-negative AKT or a dominant-negative PI3 kinase p85 subunit in THP-1 monocytes attenuated the PlGF-mediated phosphorylation of ERK-1/2, cytochemokine secretion, and chemotaxis. Taken together, these data show that activation of monocytes by PlGF occurs via activation of Flt-1, which results in activation of PI3 kinase/AKT and ERK-1/2 pathways. Therefore, we propose that increased levels of PlGF in circulation play an important role in the inflammation observed in SCD via its effects on monocytes.

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