Interleukin 1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) are molecularly distinct cytokines acting on separate receptors. The release of these cytokines can be concomitantly induced by the same signal and from the same cellular source, suggesting that they may cooperate. Administered alone, human recombinant (hr)IL-1 alpha and hrTNF alpha protect lethally irradiated mice from death, whereas murine recombinant GM-CSF and hrG-CSF do not confer similar protection. On a dose basis, IL-1 alpha is a more efficient radioprotector than TNF alpha. At optimal doses, IL-1 alpha is a more radioprotective cytokine than TNF alpha in C57BL/6 and B6D2F1 mice and less effective than TNF alpha in C3H/HeN mice, suggesting that the relative effectiveness of TNF alpha and IL-1 alpha depends on the genetic makeup of the host. Administration of the two cytokines in combination results in additive radioprotection in all three strains. This suggests that the two cytokines act through different radioprotective pathways and argues against their apparent redundancy. Suboptimal, nonradioprotective doses of IL-1 alpha also synergize with GM-CSF or G-CSF to confer optimal radioprotection, suggesting that such an interaction may be necessary for radioprotection of hemopoietic progenitor cells.

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