Alveolar macrophages from normal individuals and patients with interstitial lung diseases spontaneously expressed a 4.2-kilobase mRNA complementary to the c-sis gene, a proto-oncogene coding for one of the chains of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Concomitantly, these cells released a mediator with the properties of PDGF, including: (a) chemotactic factor for smooth muscle cells whose activity was resistant to heat and acid, but sensitive to reduction; (b) mitogenic (competence) activity for fibroblasts; (c) ability to compete with PDGF for its receptor; and (d) precipitated by an anti-PDGF antibody. While blood monocytes did not contain c-sis mRNA transcripts, monocytes matured in vitro expressed c-sis, consistent with the concept that expression of c-sis occurs during the differentiation of monocytes into alveolar macrophages. Together with the known actions of PDGF, these observations suggest that the c-sis proto-oncogene and its PDGF product are part of the armamentarium available to the alveolar macrophages for normal lung defense and participation in lung inflammation.
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