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J Immunol. 2003 Nov 1;171(9):4830-6.

IL-1 induces vesicular secretion of IL-6 without degranulation from human mast cells.

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Department of Biochemistry, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Fc epsilon RI cross-linkage in mast cells results in release of granule-associated mediators, such as histamine and proteases, as well as the production of numerous cytokines, including IL-6. Mast cells have been increasingly implicated in inflammatory processes where explosive degranulation is not commonly observed. Here, we show that IL-1 stimulates secretion of IL-6 without release of the granule-associated protease tryptase in normal human umbilical cord blood-derived mast cells (hCBMCs). IL-6 secretion stimulated by IL-1 in hCBMCs is potentiated by priming with IL-4 and reflects the higher levels of IL-6 secreted from human leukemic mast cell line (HMC-1). Stimulating HMC-1 cells by both IL-1 and TNF-alpha results in synergistic secretion of IL-6. IL-6 is de novo synthesized, as its secretion is blocked by inhibitors of transcription or protein synthesis. IL-1 does not increase intracellular calcium ion levels in either hCBMCs or HMC-1 cells, and IL-6 stimulation proceeds in the absence of extracellular calcium ions. Ultrastructural Immunogold localization shows that IL-6 is excluded from the secretory granules and is compartmentalized in 40- to 80-nm vesicular structures. Selective secretion of IL-6 from mast cells appears distinct from degranulation and may contribute to the development of inflammation, where the importance of IL-6 has been recognized.

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