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J Immunol. 1993 Apr 1;150(7):2659-67.

Cytokine production by human fetal microglia and astrocytes. Differential induction by lipopolysaccharide and IL-1 beta.

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Department of Pathology (Neuropathology), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461.


As part of a study on the role of cytokines in central nervous system development and dysfunction, we determined the pattern of cytokine production in highly purified cultures of microglia and astrocytes isolated from second-trimester human fetal brains. Levels of TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, and IL-6 mRNA and protein were determined by Northern blot analysis and ELISA before and after stimulation with LPS, TNF-alpha, or IL-1 beta. In microglia, LPS induced mRNA for all three cytokines. High protein levels of IL-6 and TNF-alpha were also found in the medium, whereas IL-1 beta protein was mostly cell associated. IL-1 beta also induced message for all three cytokines, in the rank order of IL-1 beta > IL-6 > TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha induced mRNA and protein for IL-1 beta but not for TNF-alpha or IL-6. In contrast, LPS failed to stimulate either mRNA or protein expression for any of the three cytokines in astrocytes. On the other hand, IL-1 beta provided a strong stimulus for astrocytes. IL-1 beta induced mRNA and protein for both TNF-alpha and IL-6, but the kinetics of the response differed for the two cytokines. TNF-alpha mRNA and protein levels peaked early (at 4 h and 16 h, respectively) and were undetectable by 72 h, whereas IL-6 mRNA peaked later (at 16 h) and protein levels continued to accumulate in the medium through 72 h. IL-1 beta did not induce IL-1 beta mRNA or protein in astrocytes. TNF-alpha did not induce expression of any of the cytokines in astrocytes. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that cytokine production can be induced in human fetal microglia and astrocytes but that the stimuli for induction differed significantly for the two cell types. Whereas LPS was a potent stimulus for microglia, astrocytes primarily responded to IL-1 beta. The data further suggest that microglia may be key regulators of astrocyte response, working primarily through the expression of cell-associated IL-1 beta.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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