Human blood monocytes isolated by centrifugal elutriation from healthy donors were tested for ability to produce membrane-associated antitumor monokine(s) in response to activation stimuli such as various types of interferon (IFN) and/or synthetic desmethyl muramyl dipeptide (norMDP). IFNs (α, β, and γ) and norMDP rendered blood monocytes cytotoxic to allogeneic A375 melanoma cells, as assayed by measuring release of [125I]iododeoxyuridine in 72 h. When monocytes were treated with any type of IFN for 16 h, and then fixed with paraformaldehyde, they did not show cytotoxicity to A375 cells, but when they were fixed after treatment with norMDP or lipopolysaccharide they showed significant cytotoxicity to A375 melanoma cells. This membrane-associated antitumor monokine induced by the synergistic actions of suboptimal concentrations of IFN-γ and norMDP, was cytotoxic to HT-29 colon cancer cells as well as A375 melanoma cells, but not to actinomycin D-treated L-929 cells. The fixed monocyte-mediated cytotoxicity against A375 melanoma cells was completely inhibited by a specific anti-interleukin 1α antiserum, but not by a specific anti-interleukin 1β antiserum or monoclonal anti-TNF antibody. These results suggest that membrane-associated interleukin 1α is involved through cell-to-cell contact in the host defense mechanism against cancer.

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Research sponsored by a Grant-in-Aid for Cancer Research from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, and a grant from the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan.

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