The role of cytokines in monocyte apoptosis

Pathobiology. 1999;67(5-6):291-3. doi: 10.1159/000028082.


Survival or apoptosis, activation and differentiation, phagocytosis and antigen presentation, migration or participation in granuloma formation are features of freshly recruited blood-borne monocytes in the local environment. In this presentation we describe that human monocytes undergo spontaneous apoptosis in vitro which involves Fas/FasL interactions, and that proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha), interleukin-1beta and granulocyte-monocyte-colony-stimulating factor prevent spontaneous apoptosis. In vitro infection of purified monocytes with low numbers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv prevents spontaneous apoptosis. The apoptosis-preventing effect is correlated to the release of TNFalpha and not due to phagocytosis per se. Furthermore, the minor subset of CD64-negative monocytes is found to be less susceptible to recall antigen-activated CD4-positive T cell-mediated apoptosis than CD64-positive monocytes. Finally, recent findings of our group indicate that the chemokine platelet factor 4 protects monocytes from spontaneous apoptosis and induces the differentiation of monocytes into macrophages. From these findings we conclude that monocyte recruitment, their survival, their differentiation and their functional activity at the site of inflammation are regulated by a cytokine network which needs to be further analyzed in order to design strategies for immune intervention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / administration & dosage
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / physiology*
  • Phagocytosis / physiology
  • Platelet Factor 4 / pharmacology
  • Platelet Factor 4 / physiology*
  • Tetanus Toxoid / immunology
  • Tetanus Toxoid / pharmacology
  • Tuberculin / immunology
  • Tuberculin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Tuberculin
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Platelet Factor 4
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor