Monocytes, but not macrophages, produce the eosinophil cationic protein
The eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) is a cytotoxic protein with ribonuclease activity, produced and stored in bone marrow eosinophil myelocytes. Mature circulating eosinophils contain about 10 pg ECP per cell. The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility that monocytes
produce and store ECP. By results from flow cytometry and specific protein measurement it is shown that human monocytes contain ECP (monocytes about 10 fg ECP per cell). RT-PCR analysis indicated the presence of mRNA coding for ECP in blood monocytes but not in alveolar macrophages. Furthermore,
mRNA coding for ECP and low amounts of the protein were found in three myeloid cell lines representing different stages of monocytic differentiation. Differentiation of U-937 cells to macrophages induced lowered transcription of the ECP gene and reduced protein production. Immunohistochemical
staining of lung tissue indicated that lung macrophages do not contain ECP. It is concluded that ECP is produced to a low extent by human monocytes and that the production is shut down during macrophage differentiation. This might indicate an alternative transcriptional regulation of the ECP
gene in the monocytic lineage compared to the eosinophil lineage.