Early passaged bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells exposed to 0.1-2.0 ng/ml transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) showed concentration-dependent growth inhibition, as assessed by [3H]thymidine labeling and cell counts, over a 96-h interval. Most of the inhibition of [3H]thymidine labeling measured at 96 h persisted when the medium was replaced with TGF-beta 1-free medium after 24 h, but the inhibition of labeling was prevented by the presence of anti-TGF-beta 1 antibody in the replacement medium. Additions of 2 mM cysteine, 1 mM cystine, or 2 mM N-acetylcysteine at the time of the initial addition of TGF-beta 1 blocked the inhibitory effect of TGF-beta 1 on [3H]-thymidine labeling when this was assessed after 72-96 h, but not at earlier times. Prevention of the inhibitory effect on cellular proliferation produced by cysteine, cystine and N-acetylcysteine was associated with elevation of cellular glutathione that was present at 48-96 h. There was no evidence for direct inactivation of TGF-beta 1 by the thiol-amino acids. Conditioned medium from TGF-beta 1-treated endothelial cells inhibited proliferation of mink lung carcinoma (CCL64) cells, supporting a previously reported concept of autocrine production of TGF-beta 1 by the endothelial cells. The inhibitory action of the conditioned medium was partially prevented when 1 mM cysteine was added during conditioning. Thus, TGF-beta 1 treatment of endothelial cells appears to set off autocrine production by these cells of TGF-beta 1 that perpetuates the inhibition of cellular proliferation. Replenishment of cellular glutathione with thiol-amino acids counteracts the growth-inhibitory effect of TGF-beta 1 through a currently undefined mechanism.
S K Das, A C White, B L Fanburg