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Inhibition of Cytokine Production and Cytokine-Stimulated T-Cell Activation by FK506 (Tacrolimus)1

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Insofar as it exerted its immunosuppressive effect by inhibiting cytokine expression, we assessed the effect of FK506 (Tacrolimus) on cytokine-stimulated T-cell activation. Human T cells, treated with FK506, or controls were stimulated with the mitogens PHA + PMA, Con A, and the “CD3-bypass” stimulation regimen, PMA + ionomycin. T-cell proliferation was quantitated by measuring the uptake of tritiated thymidine, and mRNA expression was assessed by RT-PCR. FK506, in a concentration-dependent fashion, inhibited T-cell proliferation and steady-state mRNA expression of IL-2 and IL-7; half-maximal suppression was obtained at 10-7 to 5 × 10-8 M. We tested whether FK506 antiproliferative effect could be overcome with exogenously reconstituted rIL-2 and/or rIL-7. Neither rIL-2 nor rIL-7, individually in conjunction with suboptimal concentrations of PHA or Con A, or in combination without any costimulus, was capable of abrogating FK506 antiproliferative effect, indicating that FK506 also acted by inhibiting cytokine-stimulated T-cell activation. To confirm this, T cells were treated with FK506 and stimulated by rIL-2 and rIL-7, individually in conjunction with suboptimal concentration of PHA and Con A. In addition, T cells were stimulated with rIL-2 and rIL-7 without any costimuli. FK506 inhibited T-cell activation stimulated by rIL-2 and by rIL-7, individually and in combination. This confirms that, in exerting its antiproliferative effect, FK506 acts at two levels, by inhibiting cytokine availability and by suppressing cytokine effect on target cells, and explains the beneficial effect of FK506 in attenuating ongoing immune responses.

Keywords: Key words: FK506; Interleukin-2; Interleukin-7; T

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: *Department of Medical Biochemistry, Arabian Gulf University, Manama, Bahrain 2: †Department of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada 3: §Renal Transplantation Unit, St. Georges-Orthodox Hospital, Beirut, Lebanon 4: ‡Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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