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Pathobiology. 1995;63(2):83-92.

Comparative studies on vascular endothelium in vitro. 3. Effects of cytokines on the expression of E-selectin, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 by cultured human endothelial cells obtained from different passages.

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Institute of Pathology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.


Endothelial cells (EC) are very responsive to proinflammatory cytokines, e.g. interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), as well as to bacterial lipopolysaccharide. EC are stimulated by these substances to secrete chemotactic factors and to increase expression of cell adhesion molecules (CAM), leading to dramatically altered interactions with leukocytes, e.g. granulocytes and monocytes. In these interactions E-selectin, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 are known to play an important role, as they are presented by the EC and interact with corresponding ligands on the white blood cell membranes. These adhesion molecules have been studied worldwide in a variety of in vitro experiments using cultured EC. Different passages and mixtures of passages have been used in these experiments, often without any regard to the comparability of the results. In this study the expression of E-selectin, ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 on cultured human umbilical vein EC (HUVEC) obtained from different passages (passages 1-6) was studied after 4, 8 and 24 h of exposure to IL-1 beta and TNF alpha. In previous studies, we have shown that IL-1 beta and TNF alpha increase the expression of E-selectin and ICAM-1 on the cytoplasmatic membranes of HUVEC and human adult EC from the saphenous vein and femoral artery in a similar fashion. Using a comparative quantitative cell enzyme immunoassay, we found that the expression of the adhesion molecules was significantly reduced with increasing passages. There was also a decreased persistence of CAM comparing different periods of stimulation between 6 and 24 h in the different passages. These data indicate that the number of passages plays an important role in the expression of adhesion molecules on EC. The results are relevant for the meaningful planning of comparative in vitro studies on EC presentation of CAM.

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