LIF is a pleiotrophic factor produced by multiple cell types including T cells, myelomoncytic lineages, fibroblasts, liver, heart and melanoma. LIF promotes long-term maintenance of embryonic stem cells by suppressing spontaneous differentiation. Other activities include the stimulation of acute phase protein synthesis by hepatocytes, stimulation of differentiation of cholinergic nerves, and suppression of adipogenesis by inhibiting the lipoprotein lipase in adipocytes. While human LIF is active on mouse cells and is widely used in the maintenance of murine ESC to prevent spontaneous differentiation, mouse LIF is not active on human cells due to its inability to bind to the human LIF receptor.
Recombinant human LIF is a 19.6 kDa protein containing 180 amino acids residues including three disulfide bonds.