The emerging cytokine tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) correlates with the progression of inflammatory diseases, including cancer. However, the effects of TIMP-1 on immune cell activation and underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. Unbiased ligand-receptor-capture-screening revealed TIMP-1-interaction with Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) family members, namely APP and Amyloid Precursor-like Protein-2 (APLP2), which was confirmed by pull-down assays and confocal microscopy. We found that TIMP-1 triggered glucose uptake and proinflammatory cytokine expression in human monocytes. In cancer patients, TIMP-1 expression positively correlated with proinflammatory cytokine expression and processes associated with monocyte activation. In pancreatic cancer, TIMP-1 plasma levels correlated with the monocyte activation marker sCD163, and the combined use of both clinically accessible plasma proteins served as a powerful prognostic indicator. Mechanistically, TIMP-1 triggered monocyte activation by its C-terminal domain and via APP as demonstrated by in vitro interference, in silico docking, and the employment of recombinant TIMP-1 variants. Identification of TIMP-1 as a trigger of monocyte activation opens new therapeutic perspectives for inflammatory diseases.

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