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Transplantation. 1999 Nov 15;68(9):1255-63.

Cyclosporine A inhibits the expression of costimulatory molecules on in vitro-generated dendritic cells: association with reduced nuclear translocation of nuclear factor kappa B.

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  • 1Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.



The maturation of dendritic cells (DC) is influenced by various factors, in particular cytokine-mediated signaling events. These include modulation of the activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB), which controls the transcription of genes encoding major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens, and costimulatory/accessory molecules for T-cell activation. Here, we investigated the influence of cyclosporine A (CsA) on the in vitro maturation of DC, and on the nuclear translocation and DNA binding of NF-kappaB.


DC progenitors were propagated from mouse bone marrow in granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) or in GM-CSF plus either transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta or interleukin (IL)-4, in the presence or absence of CsA (1 microg/ml). After 5 days of culture, cell surface expression of MHC class I/II, CD40, CD80, and CD86 was analyzed by flow cytometry, and nuclear NF-kappaB proteins by electrophoretic mobility shift, antibody supershift, and Western blot assays. The antigen-presenting function of DC was determined in one-way mixed leukocyte reactions.


Exposure of replicating DC progenitors propagated in GM-CSF or GM-CSF+TGF-beta to CsA reduced costimulatory molecule expression, without affecting MHC antigen expression. Nuclear extracts from the CsA-treated DC revealed a decrease in nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB (p50). Mixed leukocyte reaction data were consistent with the flow cytometry and gel shift assay results, and showed reduced allostimulatory ability of the CsA-treated cells compared with untreated controls. Addition of IL-4 from the start of DC cultures conferred resistance to CsA-induced inhibition of NF-kappaB nuclear translocation and DC maturation.


CsA differentially inhibits the expression of key cell surface costimulatory molecules by in vitro-generated DC. This effect can be overcome, at least in part, by IL-4 and augmented by TGF-beta. The inhibition is linked to a decrease in nuclear translocation/DNA binding of NF-kappaB. Thus, CsA can alter the antigen-presenting function of DC for T-cell activation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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