We have studied the effects of IL-4 (B cell stimulatory factor 1) on the expression of MHC gene products in normal bone marrow-derived macrophages, peritoneal macrophages, and the myelomonocytic cell line WEHI-3. Using both IL-4-containing T cell supernatant and rIL-4, we have observed significant induction of both class I and class II MHC surface expression (about 1.5- to 4-fold increase) in 2-, 3-, and 4-day cultures of bone marrow-derived macrophages. This induction was also apparent at the mRNA level as assessed by Northern blot analysis using A beta, E alpha, and class I probes. Kinetic analysis revealed that induction of class II mRNA by IL-4 was slower than induction by IFN-gamma, requiring 48 h before a significant increase was noted. The magnitude of MHC induction by IL-4 was not as great as that seen with IFN-gamma, which was found to increase surface expression of MHC antigens two- to eightfold. IL-4 also differs from IFN-gamma in the repertoire of macrophages responsive to it. IL-4 was unable to induce class I or class II expression in either thioglycolate-elicited peritoneal macrophages or WEHI-3 cells whereas IFN-gamma induced MHC antigen expression on both cell types under the same conditions. These data demonstrate that IL-4 is capable of inducing both class I and class II MHC gene products in some, but not all, macrophages.

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