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Immunology. 1994 Jan;81(1):73-8.

TNF-alpha and IL-6 induce differentiation in the human basophilic leukaemia cell line KU812.

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Department of Pathology, University of Uppsala, Sweden.


The basophilic leukaemia cell line KU812 can be induced to differentiate into basophil-like cells in vitro when exposed to supernatant from the Mo T-cell line. KU812 cells express affinity receptors for IgE, produce histamine and tryptase and have the capacity for IgE-mediated histamine release. In this study we have examined the cytokines, produced by the Mo cell line, which are responsible for the observed differentiation-inducing effect in the KU812 cell line. It was shown that interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) induced differentiation in the KU812 cells and that these cytokines were responsible for the differentiation-inducing effect of the Mo supernatant. Other cytokines tested, IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-8, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) were without effect on the KU812 cells. KU812 was also shown to express receptors for both TNF-alpha and IL-6 after 3 days cultivation with conditioned media from the Mo T-cell line. Untreated cells showed no detectable levels of TNF-alpha or IL-6 receptors indicating induction of these receptors during differentiation. Spontaneous differentiation was shown to occur under serum-free conditions which may be the result of endogenous IL-6 production through an autocrine loop. The activity of TNF-alpha and IL-6 could be blocked by specific monoclonal antibodies (mAb) to the respective cytokine.

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