Ferric ammonium citrate (FAC) is nonmitogenic for human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBM) but has a potent mitogenic activity in the presence of IL-2. FAC in the presence of IL-2 increases the number of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBM) expressing receptors for IL-2 and transferrin. FAC also markedly stimulates human PBM treated with supraoptimal, nonmitogenic concentrations of Con A. FAC, in the presence of IL-2, is a T-cell mitogen with a stringent requirement for macrophages. FAC stimulates the production of TNF-α and IFN-γ in human PBM, and this effect is potentiated by IL-2. Thiourea and 3-amino-1,2,4-triazole selectively inhibit mitogenesis induced by FAC, indicating that oxygen radicals or peroxidase may mediate the triggering signal induced by this mitogen. In addition to hemin, as we have previously reported, and FAC, a variety of iron-containing proteins have lymphocyte stimulatory properties in combination with IL-2. They include horseradish peroxidase, cytochrome c, myoglobin, and transferrin. We have given the name ferro-mitogens to this group of compounds.
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