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J Biol Chem. 1996 Nov 1;271(44):27500-8.

Nerve growth factor induces the expression of certain cytokine genes and bcl-2 in mast cells. Potential role in survival promotion.

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Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Nerve growth factor (NGF) promotes mast cell survival in vitro (Horigome, K., Bullock, E. D., and Johnson, E. M., Jr. (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 2695-2702). NGF survival promotion is cell density-dependent, and conditioned medium experiments have shown that NGF increases the production of an autocrine mast cell survival activity. Cytokines are potential candidates for autocrine survival factors. In rat peritoneal mast cells (RPMC), NGF caused an increase in the messenger RNAs for interleukin (IL)-3, IL-4, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. This induction was NGF dose-dependent, was blocked by NGF-neutralizing antibodies, and was not observed in the non-mast peritoneal cell population. The immunosuppressive agent, cyclosporin A, blocked both cytokine induction and NGF-activated survival promotion but not survival promotion activated by IL-3 or stem cell factor, suggesting that NGF enhanced RPMC survival by increasing cytokine production. We also examine the effects of NGF on the expression levels of some members of the bcl-2 family and the interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme-like cysteine protease families. NGF markedly increased bcl-2 expression but had little or no effect on the other genes studied. The induction of bcl-2 mRNA by NGF was not blocked by cyclosporin A. These data suggest that induced cytokine gene expression but not increased expression of bcl-2 mediates NGF-survival promotion in RPMC.

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