The recognition that cells of the vascular wall can secrete cytokines such as IL-1 suggests new mechanisms for initiating or sustaining inflammatory responses in blood vessels. We report that purified human monocyte-derived IL-1 or recombinant human IL-1 (rIL-1 beta and rIL-1 alpha) induce cultured human smooth muscle cells derived from veins or arteries to synthesize IL-1 beta mRNA and produce and release biologically active IL-1. rIL-1 beta also stimulated the production of PGE2 by smooth muscle cells. Exposure to rIL-1 beta (1-100 ng/ml), or rIL-1 alpha (0.01-10 ng/ml) increased IL-1 beta mRNA levels within 30 min. Actinomycin D (1 microgram/ml) prevented the induction of IL-1 beta mRNA by rIL-1. IL-1 alpha mRNA was detected in SMC treated with cycloheximide (1 microgram/ml) and rIL-1 beta, or cycloheximide alone. rIL-1 alpha and rIL-1 beta produced maximal levels of IL-1 beta mRNA after 4 h, and intracellular IL-1 biological activity after 6 h of exposure. Release of IL-1 activity in the extracellular medium began after 1 h of incubation with rIL-1 beta or rIL-1 alpha, and continued for up to 24 h. Anti-TNF antiserum that neutralized the biological activity of rTNF did not affect rIL-1-induced production of IL-1 beta mRNA or IL-1 release, suggesting that the release of TNF does not mediate these processes. Several experimental approaches indicated that the release of IL-1 by smooth muscle cells was not due to endotoxin contamination of the IL-1 preparations. Anti-IL-1 antiserum blocked the induction of smooth muscle cell IL-1 gene expression by rIL-1 beta. Polymyxin B did not prevent IL-1-induced IL-1 expression by these cells, but blocked the effect of endotoxin. Heat treatment destroyed the stimulatory capacity of rIL-1 beta, but did not affect the ability of bacterial endotoxin to induce IL-1 expression. The production of IL-1 by human vascular smooth muscle cells was not due to contamination of the cell cultures with blood monocytes, inasmuch as treatment with an antimonocyte antibody (anti-Mo2) and complement did not alter IL-1 beta mRNA content or the amount of IL-1 released from the cells in response to endotoxin, rIL-1 alpha, or rIL-1 beta.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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