Background: Proinflammatory monocytic cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and IL-6 have been incriminated in the pathogenesis of elevated beta2-microglobulin (beta2M) serum concentrations in patients undergoing haemodialysis with so-called bioincompatible dialyser membranes. However, neither the source of the elevated serum beta2M nor the precise role of monocytic cytokines in the expression of the beta2M gene have been elucidated conclusively. The aim of the current study was to evaluate whether monocytic cytokines, and in particular IL-6, are regulators of beta2M gene expression in human hepatoma cells, T-lymphocytes and monocytes.
Methods: HepG2 and HuH7 human hepatoma cells, Jurkat T-cells, monocytic MonoMac6 cells, primary human monocytes and synoviocytes were stimulated with IL-1beta, IL-6, interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha), IFN-gamma or conditioned media from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated monocytes. Expression of beta2M mRNA was analysed by Northern blotting, beta2M protein synthesis was determined by metabolic labelling and immunoprecipitation, and beta2M secretion was measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Results: In all cell types tested, IFN-gamma and, to a lesser extent, IFN-alpha stimulated gene expression of beta2M resulting in an increased synthesis and secretion of beta2M protein. Neither IL-1beta and IL-6 nor supernatants from LPS-treated monocytes were capable of inducing beta2M gene expression, with the exception of a small increase in HuH7 hepatoma cells upon IL-1beta treatment.
Conclusions: The present study provides evidence that interferons are important regulators of beta2M expression. It also shows that proinflammatory monocytic cytokines do not modulate directly the expression of beta2M in cells of hepatic, monocytic and T-lymphocytic origin. Whether they influence beta2M synthesis and secretion indirectly by modulating interferon synthesis needs to be elucidated.