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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 Oct;104(4 Pt 1):828-35.

Regulation of antigen-induced human T-lymphocyte responses by calcineurin antagonists.

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Division of Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Cyclosporin A (CS) and tacrolimus (FK506, FK) are calcineurin antagonists used widely as T-cell immunosuppressants; however, their relative efficacy on antigen-stimulated T-cell subsets remains undefined.


We have examined the effects of CS and FK on antigen-driven proliferation and cytokine generation from human PBMCs and T-cell clones.


Proliferation was assessed by tritiated thymidine incorporation. Cytokine generation was assessed by reverse transcription-PCR and ELISA.


Ragweed- and tetanus toxoid-driven proliferation of PBMCs was down-regulated equally by CS or FK. Gene expression for proinflammatory cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-gamma) assessed by reverse transcription-PCR was down-regulated in a concentration-dependent manner by either drug. Antigen-induced proliferation of ragweed-specific Th0, Th1, or Th2 clones was inhibited by either CS or FK. Cytokine gene expression and protein secretion into culture supernatants (IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-gamma) were down-regulated in a concentration-dependent manner by either CS or FK in all relevant T-cell subsets. Interestingly, down-regulation of IL-5 protein generation from Th0 and Th2 clones was consistently less sensitive to either drug than was the effect on either IL-4 or IL-13 protein generation.


CS and FK promote equivalent down-regulation of Th0, Th1, and Th2 responses; however, IL-5 generation is relatively insensitive to the immunomodulatory effects of calcineurin antagonists.

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