Human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) promotes the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic progenitor cells. Although preliminary data are available from clinical trials, the effect of GM-CSF on gene expression of immunocompetent cells in treated patients has not been studied. We previously demonstrated that in vitro treatment with GM-CSF also enhances maturation-related antitumor activities in mononuclear phagocytes. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of in vivo recombinant GM-CSF therapy on alveolar macrophages and blood monocytes, to determine if these cells demonstrated differential expression of cytokine genes, cytokine production, and tumoricidal activity. Alveolar macrophages and blood monocytes were isolated from 13 patients receiving a range of GM-CSF doses (60–250 µg/m2/day) by continuous infusion over a 2-week period. Both monocytes and macrophages were isolated prior to therapy and at day 10 of the infusion. Monocytes, in addition, were isolated on day 3 of infusion. Results indicated that GM-CSF therapy enhanced expression of tumor necrosis factor, interleukin 1, and interleukin 6 mRNA in both monocytes and alveolar macrophages. Differential responses, however, were observed in cytokine secretion; monocytes demonstrated enhanced secretion of all three cytokines by day 3 of treatment, but alveolar macrophages showed only enhanced interleukin 6 secretion at day 10. Monocyte tumoricidal activity after in vitro lipopolysaccharide stimulation was also significantly elevated by day 3 of treatment, but at day 10 activity was not statistically different from pretreatment values in either monocytes or alveolar macrophages. These data indicate that GM-CSF exerts striking time-dependent modulatory effects on gene expression and functional activities of monocytes and alveolar macrophages in vivo, although the responses of the two cell types differ with respect to cytokine secretion.

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This study was supported by NIH Contract N01-CM-47673-04 and the Debartolo Scholar Award.

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