Characterization of tumour necrosis factor alpha release by human granulocytes in response to procainamide challenge

Colin M. Hill, Joseph Lunec, Helen R. Griffiths, Karl E. Herbert

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The role of human granulocytes in the promotion of procainamide (PA) toxicity in vitro has been studied and one of the agents responsible for DNA strand scission and cell death in human target cells has been characterized. Crude peripheral blood mononuclear cells (cPBMNs) isolated by density centrifugation, and the lymphocyte cell lines--CCRF-HSB2 and WIL-2NS--were exposed to PA, and DNA strand breaks were quantified by fluorescent analysis of DNA unwinding. Therapeutic plasma concentrations of PA (0-50 microM) caused dose-dependent cytotoxicity, determined by dye exclusion, and strand breaks in cPBMNs incubated for 3 and 1.5 hr at 37 degrees, respectively. Using 50 microM PA a five-fold increase in DNA strand breaks was observed after 1.5 hr, with significant induction of strand breaks also being observed for 10 and 25 microM concentrations. Toxicity was much reduced in lymphocyte cell lines (maximal killing = 3.0% at 50 microM PA compared with 13.2% in cPBMNs). A similar decrease in toxicity was observed where N-acetyl procainamide (NAPA) was substituted for PA (less than 50% of strand breaks at all concentrations). Further investigations showed that the presence of a contaminating granulocyte population in the cPBMN fraction was responsible for the induction of PA toxicity. Incubation of a highly enriched granulocyte population with PA for 1 hr prior to exposure to purified peripheral blood mononuclear cells (pPBMNs) led to the complete restoration of the toxic effects. The resulting cyto- and genotoxicity were not significantly different to levels observed in cPBMNs. Significantly, incubation of granulocytes with NAPA did not induce toxicity in target pPBMNs. Ultrafiltration of granulocyte supernatants led to the identification of two toxic fractions of < 3000 and > 30,000 Da. Temporal studies showed that the toxicity associated with the < 3000 Da fraction appeared during the first 10-15 min incubation with PA whereas the > 30,000 Da fraction did not display significant toxicity until the 40-60 min period. Further assessment of the nature of these agents indicated that the 30,000 Da fraction was a protein. SDS-PAGE analysis showed an inducible 17,800 Da species appearing in granulocyte supernatants after 40 min incubation with PA. Dot blot analysis indicated that tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) was present in the > 30,000 Da fraction. Evidence that TNF alpha was the high-molecular weight species responsible for PA-induced toxicity was obtained from neutralization assays employing an anti-TNF alpha antibody.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1837-49
Number of pages13
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 1995


  • lupus erythematosus
  • drug-induced lupus
  • procainamide
  • granulocytes
  • DNA damage
  • tumour necrosis factor α


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