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Eur Cytokine Netw. 1992 Nov-Dec;3(6):553-63.

Simultaneous quantitation of cytokine mRNAs in interleukin-1 beta stimulated U373 human astrocytoma cells by a polymerisation chain reaction method involving co-amplification with an internal multi-specific control.

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Sanofi Elf Bio Recherches, Lab├Ęge-Innopole, France.


The measurement of cytokine mRNA levels is of fundamental importance in the understanding of diverse pathological states. We present a simplification of a polymerase chain reaction-based technique which permits the simultaneous measurement of up to 20 cytokine mRNAs, together with those of several other cellular products, including beta 2-microglobulin and beta-actin. The technique makes use of internal standards bearing multiple PCR primer sites which are identical to those on the mRNAs to be assayed. Known quantities of the standards are added to the cellular RNA and the mixture is co-reverse transcribed and co-amplified. The simplifications described here are based on the fact that each pair of amplicons accumulates in a constant ratio even in the plateau phase of amplification. As a result, no preliminary experiments to determine the limits of the exponential phase of amplification are necessary; the same number of cycles may be chosen for all the mRNAs to be measured, whatever their level in the mixture might be; pipetting errors are avoided since all calculations are based upon the relative quantities of co-amplified material. Here we illustrate the method through a quantitative study of the expression of cytokine mRNAs in U373 human astrocytoma cells before and after stimulation with IL-1 beta. Quantitation was carried out either by incorporating radioactivity in the amplicons or by fluorescence measurements after propidium iodide staining. Only very low numbers of transcripts for IL-6, IL-8, CSF-1, MCP-1 and either Gro alpha or Gro beta were detectable in unstimulated cells. The levels of these cytokine mRNAs increased dramatically following IL-1 beta stimulation and, in addition, transcription of IL-1 beta, TNF alpha, GM-CSF, G-CSF, Gro gamma and MCP-1, some of which have not previously been detected in U373, was initiated in the stimulated cells. At the same time we found that transcripts for IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IFN gamma, huMlP1 alpha and huMlP1 beta were totally absent in this cell line. These results suggest a potentially important role for astrocytes in the local amplification of inflammatory responses in the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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