Tumor necrosis factor alpha modulates mitogenic responses of human cultured airway smooth muscle

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1995 Jan;12(1):110-9. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.12.1.7529028.


Airway wall remodeling, including hyperplasia of airway smooth muscle, is regarded as an important contributor to airway hyperresponsiveness in asthmatic patients. The effects of the proinflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) on the mitogenic responses of human cultured airway smooth muscle have been investigated. Lower concentrations of TNF alpha (0.3 to 30 pM) had a small, delayed (48-h incubation), stimulatory effect on DNA synthesis that was blocked by dexamethasone (1 microM), aspirin (100 microM), or primaquine (30 microM) pretreatment, indicating that this effect was secondary to the release of cyclooxygenase products. TNF alpha (300 pM; 24- to 48-h incubation) alone had no effect on cell number or DNA or protein synthesis, but markedly reduced the stimulatory effects of thrombin (0.3 U/ml). TNF alpha (300 pM) also inhibited mitogenic responses to fetal calf serum (10%), epidermal growth factor (300 pM), and the thromboxane A2 mimetic U46619 (100 nM), indicating a nonselective effect. The inhibitory effects of TNF alpha (300 pM) were not blocked by pretreating the cells with the cyclooxygenase inhibitor aspirin (100 microM), the 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor CGS 8515 (3 microM), or the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor nitro-iminoethyl-L-ornithine (100 microM), suggesting that neither arachidonic acid metabolites nor nitric oxide were mediators of the inhibitory effect. The phospholipase A2 inhibitor primaquine (30 microM) had no effect on the inhibitory responses to TNF alpha, whereas the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone (1 microM) prevented TNF alpha inhibition of mitogenic responses. Thus, concentrations of TNF alpha, within the range detected in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from asthmatics, suppress mitogenic responses by a mechanism that is sensitive to inhibition by anti-inflammatory steroids, but does not appear to involve established targets for modulation by steroids, including arachidonic acid metabolism or induction of nitric oxide synthase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acid Oxidoreductases / physiology
  • Arachidonic Acid / physiology
  • Blood
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitogens / pharmacology
  • Muscle, Smooth / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Thrombin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors
  • Mitogens
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Dexamethasone
  • DNA
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Amino Acid Oxidoreductases
  • Thrombin