Leukotriene B4 enhances interleukin-6 (IL-6) production and IL-6 messenger RNA accumulation in human monocytes in vitro: transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms

M Rola-Pleszczynski and J Stankova


Leukotriene B4 (LTB4) is a potent lipid mediator of inflammation, and some of its bioactivities may involve inflammatory cytokines. Moreover, it may participate in myelopoiesis, either directly or via the induction of cytokines and growth factors. When human monocytes were cultured in the presence of graded concentrations of LTB4, significant stimulation of production of bioactive and immunoreactive interleukin-6 (IL-6) was observed. Nanomolar concentrations of LTB4 were optimal and the LTB4 receptor antagonist LY 255283 could block its activity. The omega-oxidation products of LTB4, 20-OH-LTB4 and 20-COOH-LTB4, were only 22% and 2% effective, respectively. LTA4 was also effective in stimulating IL-6 production, but only at micromolar concentrations, whereas 5-HETE and 12-epi-LTB4 were ineffective. The signaling induced by LTB4 did not seem to involve protein kinase C or A, but rather a tyrosine kinase, as suggested by its inhibition with genistein. LTB4 induced an accumulation of IL-6 messenger RNA (mRNA) in treated monocytes with a dose-response similar to that of IL-6 protein production. Whereas IL-6 mRNA half-life in untreated cells was approximately 1 hour, it was extended to 3 hours in LTB4-treated monocytes. Moreover, nuclear transcription of IL-6 mRNA was augmented at 30 minutes by a factor of 5 in LTB4-treated cells. Pretreatment of cells with cyclohexamide before exposure to LTB4 superinduced IL-6 message expression, but partially inhibited the effect of LTB4 on IL-6 mRNA accumulation, suggesting that newly synthesized proteins may be involved in the transcriptional activation of the IL-6 gene by LTB4. These findings constitute a first demonstration that LTB4 stimulates IL- 6 production and that the underlying mechanisms involve both increased IL-6 gene transcription and message stabilization. This may constitute an important mechanism through which rapidly produced mediators may modulate the subsequent production of regulatory or growth-promoting cytokines.