The effect of colchicine, an anti-inflammatory agent, on endogenous pyrogen (EP) production by human blood leukocytes in vitro was examined. Colchicine not only failed to suppress EP production by human leukocytes stimulated by phagocytosis, but, in the absence of other stimuli, micromolar concentrations of the drug induced pyrogen production and release by both polymorphonuclear (PMN) and mononuclear leukocytes. The response was dose related, occurring at concentrations above 0.1 muM. Colcemid and vinblastine, other agents which bind to microtubular protein, also induced pyrogen release from human leukocytes, whereas lumicolchicine, a light-alerted derivative of colchicine without affinity for microtubules, was ineffective. Colchicine did not induce EP production by rabbit leukocytes, even at 100 muM concentration. Studies of the mechanism of PMN leukocyte activation by Colcemid indicated that although the time required for contact between drug and leukocyte was brief, pyrogen production and release did not begin for 6 or more hours. If added during this time, puromycin prevented subsequent production and release of pyrogen. These results indicated that agents which interfere with the assembly of microtubules induce EP production and secretion by human leukocytes in vitro.

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