There is much interest in defining the signals that initiate abnormal proliferation of cells in a variety of states characterized by the presence of mononuclear phagocytes. Since IL-1 is a major secretory product of activated human monocytes we examined whether this cytokine can stimulate the growth of human vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC). Neither recombinant IL-1 (rIL-1) alpha (less than or equal to 5.0 ng/ml) nor beta (less than or equal to 100 ng/ml) stimulated SMC growth during 2-d incubations under usual conditions. IL-1 did stimulate SMC to produce prostanoids such as PGE1 or PGE2 that can inhibit SMC proliferation. When prostaglandin synthesis was inhibited by indomethacin or aspirin both rIL-1 alpha and beta (greater than or equal to 1 ng/ml) markedly increased SMC growth. In longer-term experiments (7-28 d) rIL-1 stimulated the growth of SMC even in the absence of cyclooxygenase inhibitors. The addition of exogenous PGE1 or PGE2 (but not PGF1 alpha, PGF2 alpha, PGI2) to indomethacin-treated SMC blocked their mitogenic response to rIL-1. Antibody to IL-1 (but not to platelet-derived growth factor [PDGF]) abolished the mitogenic response of SMC to rIL-1. Exposure of SMC to rIL-1 or PDGF caused rapid (maximal at 1 h) and transient (baseline by 3 h) expression of the c-fos proto-oncogene, determined by Northern analysis. We conclude that IL-1 is a potent mitogen for human SMC. Endogenous prostanoid production simultaneously induced by IL-1 appears to antagonize this growth-promoting effect in the short term (2 d) but not during more prolonged exposures. IL-1 produced by activated monocytes at sites of tissue inflammation or injury may thus mediate both positive and negative effects on SMC proliferation that are temporally distinct.
P Libby, S J Warner, G B Friedman