Interferon (IFN)-γ, a key immunoregulatory cytokine, has been thought to be produced solely by activated T cells and natural killer cells. In this study, we show that murine bone marrow– derived macrophages (BMMΦ) secrete large amounts of IFN-γ upon appropriate stimulation. Although interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-18 alone induce low levels of IFN-γ mRNA transcripts, the combined stimulation of BMMΦ with both cytokines leads to the efficient production of IFN-γ protein. The macrophage-derived IFN-γ is biologically active as shown by induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase as well as upregulation of CD40 in macrophages. Our findings uncover a novel pathway of autocrine macrophage activation by demonstrating that the macrophage is not only a key cell type responding to IFN-γ but also a potent IFN-γ–producing cell
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