The effect was investigated of combinations of cytokines known to be cytostatic for some tumor cells, namely interleukin 1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), interferon-beta (IFN-beta), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), on the growth and differentiation of the mouse myeloid leukemic cell line, M1, cells. IL-1 alpha, IFN-beta, and TNF by themselves are antiproliferative for M1 cells. Treatment of cells with a mixture of any two of the three cytokines resulted in at least additive growth inhibition. None of these cytokines by themselves induced differentiation of M1 cells as assessed by increased expression of Fc receptors (FcR), stimulation of phagocytic activity and by morphologic criteria. However, as little as 1 U/ml IL-1 alpha in conjunction with IFN-beta or TNF increased FcR expression, phagocytic activity and morphologic changes in addition to inhibiting the growth of M1 cells. The combination of IFN-beta and TNF did not induce differentiation, although the growth of the cells was markedly inhibited. Both TNF and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced the in vitro production of IFN activity by M1 cells. Furthermore, the induction of differentiation of M1 cells by a combination of IL-1 alpha with either IFN-beta, TNF, or LPS was inhibited by antibody against mouse IFN-beta. Therefore, it appears that IFN-beta provides one of the two required signals for differentiation of M1 cells by these combinations of stimulants, the other being IL-1. Furthermore, the cytostatic effect of TNF by itself on M1 cells was also partly blocked by anti-IFN-beta antibody, suggesting that IFN-beta is also involved in the growth inhibitory effect of TNF for M1 cells. In contrast, the cytostatic effect of IL-1 on M1 cells was not blocked by anti-IFN-beta antibody. In conclusion, both the cytostatic and differentiative effect of TNF appear to be mediated by IFN-beta. Thus, the combination of IL-1 and IFN-beta or inducers of IFN-beta resulted in terminal differentiation of M1 cells. Northern blot analysis using cDNAs for murine IFN-beta1 or human IFN-beta2 showed an increased expression of mRNA for IFN-beta1 but not for IFN-beta2 by stimulation with TNF or LPS, strongly suggesting that IFN-beta 1 rather than IFN-beta 2 is responsible for TNF or LPS effects.

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