Human promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL-60) were induced to differentiate into macrophage-like cells in a dose (3 × 10-10 to 10-7m) and time (1 to 6 days)-dependent manner by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and the tumor promoter, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate. Differentiation was determined by an increase in the percentage of morphologically mature cells, in lysozyme and nonspecific esterase activities, and in reactivity with the murine OKM1 monoclonal antibody. Two HL-60 cell variants, designated as R-80 and B-II, were also examined. R-80 cells, which are resistant to induction of cell differentiation by phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate, also exhibited resistance, although to a lesser degree, to induction of cell differentiation by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. The resistance to the action of the two compounds is presumably not due to similar binding sites for the two inducers, since 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 was unable to compete for the phorbol diester binding sites as measured by [3H]phorbol-12,13-dibutyrate binding. B-II cells were resistant to induction of cell differentiation by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate, retinoic acid, and dimethyl sulfoxide.

Two-dimensional electrophoretic analysis of HL-60 cell protein patterns indicated that treatment of the HL-60 cells with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate, retinoic acid, and dimethyl sulfoxide caused the cells to express various monocyte-macrophage and granulocyte marker proteins. None of the inducers caused a protein pattern identical to that of peripheral monocytes or granulocytes in the HL-60 cells, but the protein pattern of the HL-60 cells treated with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 was the closest to that of peripheral blood monocytes.

These results indicate that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 induces in the HL-60 cells a phenotype that resembles, but is not identical to, that of peripheral monocytes-macrophages.

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Supported by the United States Department of Energy under Contract W-31-109-ENG-38 and by the National Cancer Institute under Contract Y01-CP-70222.

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