PTH-related protein (PTHrP), the peptide that is responsible for most cases of hypercalcemia of malignancy, is also produced under normal circumstances by a variety of tissues. Its role and regulation at these sites are not well understood. Recently, we have shown that PTHrP is induced in the spleen during the host response to endotoxin (LPS) and that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a major mediator of this effect. Given the large body of in vitro evidence suggesting that PTHrP can be produced by lymphocytes and act in an autocrine loop to alter their function, studies were undertaken to determine whether lymphocytes were the cells responsible for PTHrP production in the spleen. Both constitutive and LPS-induced PTHrP messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were the same in mice lacking mature T cells (nude mice) and in mice lacking natural killer (NK) cells (due to pretreatment with antibody against NK 1.1) compared to levels in normal mice, suggesting that neither mature T cells nor NK cells were the splenic source of PTHrP. Even scid mice that lack functioning T and B cells responded to TNF with the induction of splenic PTHrP mRNA levels comparable to those in control mice. Localization of PTHrP mRNA in subfractions of rat spleens after in vivo treatment with LPS confirmed the results of the murine studies; PTHrP mRNA was barely detectable in the lymphocyte-rich single cell fraction of the spleen. In contrast, the stromal fraction of the spleen was enriched with PTHrP mRNA both in the basal state and in response to LPS. A similar pattern of distribution was seen for interleukin-6; LPS only increased mRNA levels of this TNF-inducible cytokine in the splenic stroma. In addition, mRNA for the PTH/PTHrP receptor, which decreased in response to LPS, colocalized with PTHrP mRNA in the stromal fraction of the spleen. Immunohistochemical studies identified PTHrP in two populations of splenic cells: 1) smooth muscle cells located in the splenic capsule and trabeculae and 2) a subpopulation of stromal cells located in the red pulp of the spleen, primarily in a subcapsular distribution. Consistent with the localization of PTHrP mRNA, lymphocytes in the white pulp of the spleen did not stain for PTHrP.
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