IL-6 and TGF-α costimulate mesenchymal stem cell vascular endothelial growth factor production by ERK-, JNK-, and PI3K-mediated mechanisms

Jeremy L. Herrmann, Brent R. Weil, Aaron M. Abarbanell, Yue Wang, Jeffrey A. Poynter, Mariuxi C. Manukyan, Daniel R. Meldrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) protect ischemic tissues in part through paracrine growth factor production. IL-6, which is upregulated in the heart during ischemia, has been shown to enhance stem cell proliferation and migration. The effect of IL-6 on MSC paracrine function, however, remains unknown. In addition, TGF-α increases MSC vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production and may share downstream signaling pathways with IL-6 involving ERK, JNK, and PI3K. We hypothesize that cotreatment with IL-6 and TGF-α will result in greater MSC VEGF production than by either treatment alone via these signaling pathways. Murine MSCs were treated with IL-6 (0.05 ng/mL) with or without TGF-α (250 ng/mL) and in combination with inhibitors of ERKI/II, JNK, and PI3K for 24 h. Vascular endothelial growth factor concentrations in the supernatants were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Phosphorylation of ERK, JNK, and PI3K was measured using Western blot analysis. IL-6 increased MSC VEGF production at a dose of 0.05 ng/mL, and the combination of IL-6 and TGF-α (250 ng/mL) increased VEGF production to a greater extent than IL-6 or TGF-α alone. IL-6 induced phosphorylation of ERK, JNK, and PI3K, and inhibition of each suppressed IL-6-induced VEGF production. TGF-α cotreatment overcame VEGF suppression after ERK2 inhibition but not ERK1, JNK, or PI3K. These data suggest that IL-6 stimulates MSC VEGF production alone and additively with TGF-α via ERK-, JNK-, and PI3K-mediated mechanisms. IL-6 and TGF-α cotreatment may be a useful strategy for enhancing MSC VEGF production and cardioprotection during myocardial ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-516
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Paracrine
  • cytokines
  • growth factors
  • inflammation
  • pretreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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