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Int Immunol. 2008 May;20(5):633-44. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxn023. Epub 2008 Mar 14.

Modulation of T cell homeostasis and alloreactivity under continuous FTY720 exposure.

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  • 1Department of Autoimmunity and Transplantation, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, 4002 Basel, Switzerland. barbara.metzler@novartis.com


The immunomodulator FTY720 inhibits lymph node (LN) and thymic egress, thereby constraining T cell circulation and reducing peripheral T cell numbers. Here, we analyzed in mouse models the as yet scarcely characterized impact of long-term (up to 6 months) FTY720 exposure on T cell homeostasis and possible consequences for alloreactivity. In green fluorescent protein (GFP) hemopoietic chimeras, the turnover of (initially GFP(-)) peripheral T cell pools was markedly delayed under FTY720, while normal homeostatic differences between CD4 and CD8 T cell sub-populations were retained or amplified further. Homeostatic proliferation was enhanced, and within shrinking T cell pools, the proportions of effector memory phenotype CD4 T cells (CD4T(PEM)) increased in spleens and LNs and of central memory phenotype CD8 T cells (CD8T(PCM)) in LNs. By contrast, the fractions of CD8T(PEM) and CD4T(PCM) remained stably small under FTY720. The enrichment for CD4T(PEM) and CD8T(PCM) correlated with larger proportions of IFNgamma-producing T cells upon nonspecific but not allospecific stimulation. Splenic CD4 T cells from FTY720-treated mice proliferated more strongly upon transfer to semi-allogeneic hosts. However, heart allograft survival was not compromised in FTY720 pre-treated recipients. It correlated with reduced intra-graft CD8 T cells, and the longest surviving transplants contained the highest numbers of CD4 T cells. Thus, continuous FTY720 exposure reveals differential homeostatic responses by memory phenotype CD4 and CD8 T cell sub-populations, and it may enhance alloreactive CD4 T cell proliferation and tissue infiltration without accelerating allograft rejection.

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