Monocyte Survival Factors Induce Akt Activation and Suppress Caspase-3

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A number of inflammatory cytokines and growth factors promote monocyte survival; however, the biochemical events stimulated by these factors are poorly defined. We previously showed that the monocyte survival factor macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) activated monocyte survival through a PI 3-kinase-dependent pathway resulting in the phosphorylation of Akt and the suppression of the activation of caspase-3. Because other cytokines and bacterial cell wall products also induce monocyte survival, we hypothesized that these factors may also suppress caspase-3 and caspase-9 activation and activate Akt in human monocytes. To test this hypothesis, we found that interleukin (IL)-1 β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)- α, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), granulocyte macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and IL-18 appeared to suppress DNA fragmentation, caspase-9, and caspase-3 activation in human monocytes. Moreover, these stimuli appeared to induce the serine and threonine phosphorylation of Akt, which was reduced by the PI 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002. Using in vitro kinase assays, M-CSF appeared to induce more Akt activity than did the other survival factors. Treatment of monocytes with either LY294002 or wortmannin resulted in caspase-3 activation in the presence of these survival factors. These results suggest that monocyte survival factors may suppress DNA fragmentation, caspase-9, and caspase-3 activation in a PI 3-kinase-dependent manner, perhaps through the activation of Akt.

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