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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Aug;86(16):6348-52.

Production of tumor necrosis factor and other cytokines by astrocytes stimulated with lipopolysaccharide or a neurotropic virus.

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Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201.


Rat astrocytes, immunologically competent glial cells of the central nervous system (CNS), released a variety of cytokines after activation. Lipopolysaccharide-stimulated astrocytes produced tumor necrosis factor (TNF) as demonstrated by Northern blot analysis using a mouse TNF probe and by functional assay. Biological activity of rat astrocyte-derived TNF was neutralized by rabbit antiserum against recombinant murine TNF. Stimulation of astrocytes by lipopolysaccharide also activated the interleukin 1 and interleukin 6 genes. We have also investigated whether a neurotropic paramyxovirus, Newcastle disease virus, triggers cytokine production by astrocytes. This virus induced astrocytes to produce TNF, lymphotoxin, interleukin 6, and alpha- and beta-interferons. Thus, stimulation by endotoxin and virus activated distinct, yet overlapping, sets of cytokine genes. We propose that astrocytes and the cytokines they produce may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of immunologically and/or virally mediated CNS disease, in CNS intercellular communication, and in the interactions between the nervous and immune systems.

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