Granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor: not just another haematopoietic growth factor


Granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is often used to treat leucopenia. Other haematopoietins may increase the number of circulating leucocytes with higher efficiency, but GM-CSF has additional effects that may be far more relevant than its haematopoietic activity. GM-CSF induces differentiation, proliferation and activation of macrophages and dendritic cells which are necessary for the subsequent T helper cell type 1 and cytotoxic T lymphocyte activation. GM-CSF haematopoietic and non-haematopoietic functions have pro-inflammatory and immune regulatory potential to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases and tumours. On the other hand, GM-CSF deficiency leads to various immune dysfunctions and the current utilization of GM-CSF as haematopoietic factor might be an accurate but very incomplete indication for a cytokine with vast clinical potential.

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Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4



Acute myeloid leukaemia


Alveolar macrophage


Bone marrow


Cytokine inducible SH2-domain


Dendritic cell


GM-CSFRα subunit-associated protein


Invariant natural killer T


IκB kinase




Mitogen-activated kinase-like protein


Nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells


Nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B cells inhibitor β


Phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase


Protein kinase C


Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis


Recombinant human GM-CSF


Recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor


Signal transducers and activators of transcription


SRC-like adapter protein


Toll-like receptor


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A.F.C., O.R.E., and M.A.S., are scholarship holders from the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT), Mexico. Point of view and discussion from León Islas is gratefully acknowledged. The graphic design expertise from Ariadna Méndez is gratefully acknowledged. The authors declare not to have any conflict of interest related to publishing this article.

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Correspondence to Rogelio Hernandez-Pando.

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Francisco-Cruz, A., Aguilar-Santelises, M., Ramos-Espinosa, O. et al. Granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor: not just another haematopoietic growth factor. Med Oncol 31, 774 (2014).

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  • Haematopoietic growth factor
  • Granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor
  • Innate immunity
  • Adaptive immunity