We investigated normal human mesothelial cells and human malignant mesothelioma cell lines for the ability to produce hematopoietic colony- stimulating factors (CSFs) in culture. Early passage cultures of normal diploid human mesothelial cells spontaneously expressed detectable levels of M-CSF mRNA transcripts, but lacked detectable transcripts for GM-CSF or G-CSF. Exposure of normal mesothelial cells to epidermal growth factor (EGF), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or tumor necrosis factor (TNF) induced expression of G-CSF mRNA. The combination of EGF and TNF induced threefold more G-CSF transcripts than did either factor alone. GM-CSF transcripts were induced only by the combination of TNF and EGF. Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) transcripts were induced by EGF, TNF, or LPS and were inhibited by hydrocortisone (HC). All malignant mesothelioma cell lines tested also spontaneously expressed M-CSF transcripts. However, in contrast to normal mesothelial cells, two of four malignant mesothelioma cell lines also autonomously expressed G- CSF and GM-CSF transcripts without TNF, EGF, or LPS stimulation. Secretion of biologically active CSFs was confirmed by testing media conditioned by the various cell types examined. The detection of biologically active CSFs correlated well with the presence of detectable CSF transcripts by Northern analysis. These data indicate that (a) normal human mesothelial cells spontaneously express detectable levels of M-CSF mRNA in culture; (b) EGF is an essential cofactor for optimal induction of G-CSF and GM-CSF expression; (c) exposure of normal mesothelial cells to inflammatory mediators such as LPS and TNF increases the levels of transcripts for CSFs and IL-1 beta; and (d) as compared with normal human mesothelial cells, some cell lines of human malignant mesothelioma exhibit aberrant gene expression for multiple cytokines, including G-CSF, GM-CSF, IL-1 beta, and IL-6.

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