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Cell Immunol. 1999 Mar 15;192(2):87-95.

A specific inhibitor of the p38 mitogen activated protein kinase affects differentially the production of various cytokines by activated human T cells: dependence on CD28 signaling and preferential inhibition of IL-10 production.

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Department of Immunology, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065, USA.


Cytokine production upon T cell activation results from the integration of multiple signaling pathways from TCR/CD3 and from costimulatory molecules such as CD28. Among these pathways, the possible role of p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) is the least understood. Here, we used a highly specific p38 MAPK inhibitor, the SB203580 compound, to examine the role of this enzyme in the induction of various cytokines in human T cells stimulated with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 mAb together or in combination with PMA. Cytokine induction was monitored by ELISA and at the mRNA level. While SB203580 had little effect on IL-2 production and proliferation, it significantly reduced the production of several other cytokines. The secretion of IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and TNF-alpha was inhibited by 20-50% with modes of T cell activation involving the CD28 pathway, whereas their mRNA expression was little affected. In contrast, IFN-gamma induction via CD28/PMA or CD3/CD28, but not CD3/PMA, was markedly diminished both at the protein and at the mRNA levels. Most interestingly, SB203580 also suppressed IL-10 secretion and mRNA induction via CD28-dependent activation by 75-85% (IC50 approximately 0.2 microM). Subset analysis suggested that this inhibition did not reflect a differential effect on T cell subsets. Therefore, p38 MAPK activity appears to contribute to cytokine production, mostly via CD28-dependent signaling. Moreover, IL-10 seems to rely more on this activity than other cytokines for its induction in T cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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