Nitric oxide suppresses human T lymphocyte proliferation through IFN-γ- dependent and IFN-γ-independent induction of apoptosis

Alessandra Allione, Paola Bernabei, Marita Bosticardo, Silvia Ariotti, Guido Forni, Francesco Novelli

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Human normal and malignant T cells cease to proliferate, down-modulate Bcl-2 expression, and undergo apoptosis when cultured in the presence of NO- donor compounds (sodium nitroprusside and NOC12) for 48 h. At 72 h, cells that evade apoptosis start to proliferate again, overexpress both chains of the IFN-γR, and thus become susceptible to apoptosis in the presence of IFN- γ. By contrast, in the presence of IFN-γ, no apoptosis, but an increase of proliferation was displayed by control cultures of T cells not exposed to NO and not overexpressing IFN-γR chains. The NO-induced cell surface overexpression of IFN-γR chains did not affect the transduction of IFN-γ- mediated signals, as shown by the expression of the transcription factor IFN regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1). However, transduction of these signals was quantitatively modified, because IFN-γ induces enhanced levels of caspase-1 effector death in NO-treated cells. These findings identify NO as one of the environmental factors that critically govern the response of T cells to IFN- γ. By inducing the overexpression of IFN-γR chains, NO decides whether IFN- γ promotes cell proliferation or the induction of apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4182-4191
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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