TNF and IL-1 stimulate the synthesis and release of platelet-activating factor (PAF) by neutrophils and vascular endothelial cells. Serum inhibits PAF production even after inactivation of an acetylhydrolase that degrades PAF. Human plasma was fractionated by gel filtration chromatography, and two inhibitory fractions were detected, one containing PAF-acetylhydrolase activity and the other alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor. Low concentrations of this antiproteinase and of human plasma alpha 1-antichymotrypsin inhibited TNF-induced PAF synthesis in neutrophils, macrophages, and vascular endothelial cells. Both antiproteinases also inhibited PAF production stimulated by phagocytosis in macrophages and induced with IL-1 in neutrophils or with TNF in vascular endothelial cells. These results suggest that a proteinase activated on the plasma membrane or secreted by these cells is involved in promoting PAF synthesis. Indeed, addition of elastase to macrophages, neutrophils, and endothelial cells stimulated synthesis and release of PAF much faster than TNF. A similar stimulation was observed in incubations with cathepsin G. To identify a proteinase activated in TNF-treated cells, neutrophils and endothelial cells were incubated with specific chloromethyl ketone inhibitors of elastase and cathepsin G. Synthesis of PAF was significantly inhibited by low concentrations of the cathepsin G inhibitor. The finding that antiproteinases are inhibitory at concentrations 100-fold lower than those present in plasma raises questions as to the ability of TNF and IL-1 to stimulate neutrophils in circulation or endothelial cells to synthesize PAF. We propose that PAF production is limited to zones of close contact between cells, which exclude antiproteinases.

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