Activin A/erythroid differentiation factor (EDF), a dimeric polypeptide hormone composed of two beta A subunits, regulates growth and erythroid differentiation of human hematopoietic progenitor and erythroleukemia cells. We have identified activated human peripheral blood monocytes as a natural source of activin A/EDF. In these cells, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced rapidly the expression of the beta A subunit mRNAs through protein kinase C-dependent transcriptional regulation. The beta A subunit mRNA expression was also increased by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, an inducer of macrophage maturation of monocytes. Western analysis with an anti-beta A antibody and an erythroid differentiation bioassay confirmed that the conditioned media of LPS-activated monocytes contained the activin A/EDF protein. We suggest that monocyte/macrophage-derived activin A/EDF may not only modulate hematopoiesis but may also act as a mediator molecule in the diverse physiologic and pathogenetic events in which these cells are involved.

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