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J Biol Chem. 2006 Sep 15;281(37):27653-61. Epub 2006 Jul 21.

Apoptotic neutrophils release macrophage migration inhibitory factor upon stimulation with tumor necrosis factor-alpha.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Bern, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.


Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is an important cytokine involved in the regulation of innate immunity and present at increased levels during inflammatory responses. Here we demonstrate that mature blood and tissue neutrophils constitutively express MIF as a cytosolic protein not associated with azurophil granules. Functionally active MIF, but not proteases stored in azurophil granules, was released from apoptotic neutrophils following short term tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha stimulation in a caspase-dependent manner and prior to any detectable phagocytosis by monocyte-derived macrophages. Moreover, TNF-alpha-mediated MIF release was blocked by glyburide and propenicide, both inhibitors of ATP-binding cassette-type transporters, suggesting that this transporter system is activated during neutrophil apoptosis. Taken together, apoptotic mature neutrophils release MIF upon short term TNF-alpha stimulation. Therefore, apoptosis may not always occur without the induction of pro-inflammatory mechanisms.

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