Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF beta) promotes deposition of extracellular matrix and is associated with fibrotic conditions both in experimental animals and in humans. Although a role for mast cells has been suspected in the pathogenesis of fibrosis, no potent mediator capable of stimulating fibroblast growth or extracellular matrix deposition has been identified in mast cell supernatants. We report here the constitutive production of TGF beta 1 by four dog mastocytoma cell lines. TGF beta 1 was identified by characteristic biologic activity, blockade of biologic effect by specific neutralizing antibody, and by recognition of a band with the appropriate migration by western blot. TGF beta 1 mRNA, but not TGF beta 2 or TGF beta 3 mRNA, was also produced constitutively by all four cell lines. Quantitation by bioassay revealed baseline TGF beta secretion of approximately 1 ng/10(6) cells over 48 h. Stimulation of mastocytoma cells with phorbol ester increased the rate of release of TGF beta 1, most markedly in the first 30 min after stimulation, without increasing TGF beta 1 mRNA. Dog mastocytoma cells produced TGF beta 1 primarily in a latent form, inactive until treated with acid. Both pure TGF beta 1 and TGF beta-containing mastocytoma cell-conditioned media inhibited mitogenesis and proliferation in dog mastocytoma cell lines, suggesting that mast cell tumor lines would not grow preferentially based on their ability to produce TGF beta. These studies may make possible further investigation of the mechanism by which mast cells contribute to the induction of fibrosis.
D W Pennington, A R Lopez, P S Thomas, C Peck, W M Gold