Acquired abnormalities of connective tissue metabolism in inflammatory diseases often persist when lesional tissue is maintained in in vitro culture. Although connective tissue cells are exposed to inflammatory cell-derived mediators in vivo and such mediators have been shown to alter connective tissue cell behavior, it is unclear whether the persistence of metabolic defects in vitro could result from remote in vivo exposure to these mediators. An in vitro model was used to test whether transient exposure of normal fibroblasts to inflammatory mediators could lead to metabolic alterations that persist during in vitro culture. Short-term exposure of human foreskin fibroblasts in vitro to supernates of mitogen-activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells led to persistent abnormalities of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) metabolism. Fibroblasts previously exposed to mononuclear cell products synthesized more than twice as much PGE2 when stimulated compared with similarly stimulated but previously unexposed control fibroblasts of the same strain. The enhanced PGE2 synthesis persisted for as long as 20 wk and 19 cell generations after the original exposure to mononuclear cell products. Exposure of fibroblast populations to mononuclear cell products may, thus, lead to metabolite alterations that are still evident after multiple cell generations.
J H Korn