Background: N-propionyl cysteaminylphenol-maleimide-dextran (NPCMD) is a toxic tyrosinase substrate developed to treat melanoma. Objective: We investigated the effect of NPCMD on innate immune responses in monocytes. Methods: CD14+ monocytes and a monocytic cell line, THP-1, were stimulated with NPCMD in vitro. Cytokines in the culture supernatants were determined by ELISA and flow cytometry. Results: NPCMD stimulated CD14+ monocytes and THP-1 cells to secrete TNFα, IL-6 and IL-8, but not IL-10 or IL-12. TNFα secretion from THP-1 cells stimulated with NPCMD was inhibited by addition of an anti-TLR4 mAb in culture. Moreover, NPCMD stimulated production of pro-IL-1β in CD14+ monocytes and monocytic cell line THP-1 cells and activated the NLRP3-inflammasome, resulting in production of mature IL-1β. Use of ASC and NLRP3-deficient THP-1 cell lines established involvement of the NLRP3 inflammasome in an IL-1β secretion in treatment with NPCMD. Inhibition of IL-1β secretion by an endocytosis inhibitor, cytochalasin B, and a lysosomal enzyme cathepsin B inhibitor, CA-074 Me, suggested the involvement of lysosomal rupture and leakage of cathepsin B into the cytosol in NLRP3 activation by NPCMD. Conclusion: The immunopotentiating effect of NPCMD mediated by TLR4 and NLRP3 inflammasome activation could be useful for eliciting effective adaptive immune responses against melanoma and other tumors.
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