The effects of recombinant human interleukin (rhIL)-1α, -1β, 2 and 6 on the release of ACTH from the ACTH-producing tumour cell line AtT-20 of the mouse were studied during relatively long periods of incubation. Levels of ACTH in the media, measured by radioimmunoassay, were increased by the addition of rhIL-1α or -1β after latent periods of more than 4 h. RhIL-1α and -1β were almost equally potent in this experiment and the minimum, half-maximum and maximum effective concentrations of both rhIL-1α and -1β were about 0·1 pmol/l, 1–3 pmol/l and 10–100 pmol/l respectively. During incubation with rhIL-1β, immunoreactive ACTH levels and mRNA levels of the ACTH precursor pro-opiomelanocortin in cells also increased without apparent changes in the growth rate of the cells. Although the AtT-20 cells used in this study were quite insensitive to human/rat corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), the cells showed a significant response to CRH after incubation with rhIL-1β. RhIL-6 showed similar effects to those of rhIL-1β on ACTH synthesis and release; increasing ACTH in cells and media after a certain latent period. On the other hand, rhIL-2 did not change ACTH levels in the AtT-20 cells in this study. These observations indicate that rhIL-1α, -1β and rhIL-6 have direct effects on ACTH-producing cells to stimulate the release and synthesis of ACTH after a latent period.
Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 122, 33–39