Involvement of ERK-1/2 in IL-21-induced cytokine production in leukemia cells and human monocytes

Cytokine. 2008 Oct;44(1):101-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2008.06.010. Epub 2008 Aug 15.


Cytokines play an important role in the immune system, and abnormalities in their production have been found in many human diseases. Interleukin-21 (IL-21), a type I cytokine produced by activated T cells, has diverse effects on the immune system, but its ability to induce production of other cytokines is not well delineated. Furthermore, the signaling pathway underlying its action is poorly understood. Here, we have evaluated IL-21-induced cytokine production in human monocytes and U937 leukemia cells. We found that IL-21 induces upregulation of a variety of cytokines from multiple cytokine families. We also found that IL-21 triggers rapid activation of ERK1/2. Neutralizing antibody to the IL-21R prevented both IL-21-induced cytokine production and IL-21-induced activation of ERK1/2. Inhibition of ERK1/2 activity by the ERK-selective inhibitor U0126 reverses the ability of IL-21 to upregulate cytokine production, suggesting that IL-21-induced cytokine production is dependent on ERK1/2 activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Butadienes / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Interleukins / physiology*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction
  • U937 Cells
  • Up-Regulation


  • Butadienes
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukins
  • Nitriles
  • U 0126
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • interleukin-21