Pro-inflammatory cytokines are known to affect apoptosis in human peripheral blood cells. Neutrophils, which are an essential component of the immune response and usually undergo apoptosis rapidly, are greatly affected by these cytokines. In this study, the effect of varying concentrations of TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 on the apoptotic response of leukocytes and their sub-sets in cultured whole blood were studied over a 48 h culture period. At clinically relevant concentrations, it was found that these pro-inflammatory cytokines reduced the amount of spontaneous apoptosis in neutrophils in culture, but had little effect on the lymphocyte population. Distinct differences in the sensitivity of neutrophils to cytokine-mediated protection against spontaneous apoptosis were apparent when compared to previous studies conducted using purified or enriched neutrophil cultures. IL-1β, at a dose of 0.01 pg/mL, was observed to significantly inhibit spontaneous neutrophil apoptosis by ∼90% and 65% at 24 and 48 h of culturing, respectively. This concentration used in whole blood is dramatically lower than that required to elicit similar protection in neutrophil-enriched cell cultures. Higher concentrations of TNF-α (1.0 pg/mL) and IL-6 (125 pg/mL) were also found to significantly inhibit neutrophil apoptosis, at levels much lower than previously published using neutrophil-enriched cultures. Furthermore, each cytokine displayed a unique signature with respect to the optimal applied doses required to elicit maximal protection against spontaneous neutrophil apoptosis. These results demonstrate the dramatic differences in cellular responses that exist between neutrophil-enriched cultures and whole blood culture systems, where multiple blood cell types provide a much more complex environment.

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Keywords Apoptosis, Blood, Cytokine, Human, Neutrophil
Persistent URL
Journal Cytokine
McNamee, J.P. (J. P.), Bellier, P.V. (P. V.), Kutzner, B.C. (B. C.), & Wilkins, R.C. (2005). Effect of pro-inflammatory cytokines on spontaneous apoptosis in leukocyte sub-sets within a whole blood culture. Cytokine, 31(2), 161–167. doi:10.1016/j.cyto.2005.05.001