Hematopoiesis is regulated by cytokines released from bone marrow stromal cells and mature leukocytes. Recent studies have identified these cells as targets for benzene-induced hematotoxicity. In the present studies we analyzed the effects of benzene treatment of mice on the production of interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) by bone marrow leukocytes. Bone marrow cells isolated from control or benzene-treated mice (660 mg/kg, once/day, 3 days) were purified on lymphocyte separation medium. Cells were then cultured in the presence of varying concentrations of lipopolysaccharide (0.1-10 μg/ml) for 0.5-48 hr. IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-α activity in culture supernatants was then quantified. We found a significant (p ≤ 0.02) increase in TNF-α production by bone marrow leukocytes from benzene-treated mice when compared to cells from control animals. Furthermore, this increase was dependent on the macrophage-specific growth factor, colony stimulating factor-1. Benzene treatment was also found to induce a small but significant (p ≤ 0.02) increase in the production of IL-1 by bone marrow leukocytes. This increase was rapid and transient, occurring in supernatants collected 2 hr after inoculation of bone marrow cells into culture. In contrast, benzene treatment had no effect on the production of IL-6 by bone marrow leukocytes. These results demonstrate that benzene treatment of mice stimulates mature bone marrow leukocytes to produce elevated levels of growth regulatory cytokines.
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