Human PBMC were cultured in medium containing human rIL-2, and the supernatants and cell lysates were analyzed for IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta using specific RIA. IL-2, but not the excipient detergents included in the rIL-2 preparation, induced the synthesis of both cytokines. The concentrations of IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta in the cell lysates and supernatants depended on both the concentration of rIL-2 in the culture medium and the duration of the incubation. After 24 h of stimulation, IL-2-induced IL-1 alpha remained almost entirely cell-associated. In contrast, IL-1 beta was present in both cell lysates and supernatants and was more abundant in the latter. SDS-PAGE analysis after radioimmunoprecipitation with anti-IL-1 antibodies indicates that cell-associated IL-1 resulting from IL-2 stimulation was in the form of the 35 kDa IL-1 precursor whereas secreted IL-1 was almost entirely in the form of the mature 18 kDa product. Depletion of monocytes from the PBMC culture substantially reduced IL-2-induced IL-1 production. In addition, Leu M3+ monocytes obtained through FACS, but not CD16+ NK cells, produced both IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta in response to IL-2. The low level of endotoxin present in the IL-2 preparation used in our studies and the selective inhibition by polymyxin B of LPS-induced, but not IL-2-induced, IL-1 production by PBMC indicate that IL-2-induced IL-1 production was not due to endotoxin contamination. Furthermore, an anti-IL-2 antiserum selectively inhibited IL-1 production in response to IL-2 stimulation. We conclude that IL-2 is a potent inducer of IL-1 synthesis and secretion in vitro and propose that IL-1 may be generated in vivo in patients undergoing IL-2 immunotherapy.

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