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Exp Hematol. 1995 Aug;23(9):978-85.

Does thalidomide affect IL-2 response and production?

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  • 1Bone Marrow Transplantation Program, Stanford University Medical Center, CA 94305, USA.

Erratum in

  • Exp Hematol 1995 Nov;23(12):1324.


The exact mechanism of immunosuppression by thalidomide is poorly understood. A common denominator in the pathogenesis of graft-vs.-host disease, graft rejection, reactional lepromatous leprosy, and autoimmune disorders modulated by thalidomide is the activation of T lymphocytes culminating in the synthesis of interleukin-2 (IL-2), the expression of high-affinity IL-2 receptors, and the induction of proliferation. We investigated the effect of thalidomide on the production of IL-2 by the human leukemia cell line Jurkat through induction of IL-2 gene enhancer activity and through the presence of IL-2 in supernatants. beta-galactosidase activity, encoded by a reporter lac z construct and controlled by a transcription factor in thalidomide-treated PMA- and ionomycin-stimulated Jurkat cells, was similar (97 +/- 1.33%; p > 0.1) to non-thalidomide-treated controls at all drug concentrations tested. IL-2 enhancer-driven beta-galactose activity of thalidomide-treated and stimulated cells was also similar to that of untreated controls (p > 0.2). The IL-2 production of activated nontransfected Jurkat cells was gauged by using the IL-2-dependent cell line HT-2 as a readout and by ELISA. Jurkat cells were subcloned by limiting dilution. Bulk cultures and three subclones (J.5.2.5., J.5.2.9., and J.5.3.8.) were assayed at 6, 12, and 24 hours after PHA/PMA-induced stimulation. No inhibitory effect on the IL-2 production by thalidomide could be detected at any of the drug concentrations tested (5-30 micrograms/mL), whereas 10 to 100 ng/mL of cyclosporine inhibited the IL-2 production by 95 to 100%. In addition, we observed neither inhibition of IL-2-dependent proliferation of HT-2 nor inhibition of PHA-induced proliferation of peripheral mononuclear cells by thalidomide at all drug concentrations used (5-30 micrograms/mL). These results do not support the possibility of a modulatory effect on the immune response by thalidomide via IL-2 production and IL-2 response.

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