Macrophages are a major component of the innate immune system, and the cytokines they secrete are involved in antitumor responses. Z-100 is obtained from hot-water extract of human-type Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain Aoyama B and activates the innate immune response. However, while Z-100 is known to modulate macrophage activity, the mechanism behind this modulation is not fully understood. We evaluated the effects of Z-100 on the murine macrophage cell line RAW264.7. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) production from RAW264.7 cells was strongly induced by Z-100 and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) stimulation but only weakly induced by Z-100 alone. Quantitative gene expression analysis showed that nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain containing 2 (Nod2) expression was up-regulated by IFN-γ treatment in RAW264.7 cells while Z-100-induced TNF-α production was attenuated by Nod2 gene silencing. Further, componential analysis demonstrated that muramic acid and amino acids distinctive of muramyl dipeptide (MDP) were contained within Z-100 and Z-100Fr I, the low-molecular-weight fraction containing components <3. kDa in size. In addition, Z-100Fr I enhanced TNF-α production in RAW264.7 cells and promoted NOD2-dependent nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation in murine NOD2-expressing SEAP reporter HEK293 (HEK-Blue-mNOD2) cells. Taken together, these results suggest that Z-100 contains MDP-like molecules and augments NF-κB signaling via the direct activation of Nod2 in macrophages, which might be one mechanism driving the innate immune responses induced by Z-100 in cancer immunotherapy.
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