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J Leukoc Biol. 1996 Aug;60(2):245-52.

NO is not sufficient to explain maximal cytotoxicity of tumoricidal macrophages against an NO-sensitive cell line.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Research, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence 02903, USA.


Nitric oxide (NO) is a macrophage cytotoxic effector. Results presented here, however, demonstrate that NO does not fully explain macrophage cytotoxicity against NO-sensitive cells because (1) inhibition of NO production by activated macrophages reduces, not eliminates, cytotoxicity; (2) NO produced chemically in amounts equimolar to those released from macrophages fails to lyse P815 cells; and (3) macrophages isolated from wounds 10 days after injury generate NO just as tumoricidal activated macrophages but are not tumor cytotoxic. The noncytotoxic nature of these wound-derived macrophages is not explained by the release of inactive forms of NO, because they suppress lymphocyte proliferation in an NO-dependent manner, nor by the production of cytoprotective molecules, because their addition to activated macrophage-tumor cell cocultures does not quench cytotoxicity. Interestingly, cytotoxicity can be aroused in day 10 wound-derived macrophages by culture with lipopolysaccharide, and macrophages harvested earlier in the development of the wound are cytotoxic. By generating NO but not killing an NO-sensitive cell, day 10 wound-derived macrophages demonstrate that NO production is not sufficient to account for the killing of an NO-sensitive tumor by macrophages.

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