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Clin Exp Immunol. 2001 Jun;124(3):406-13.

Phenytoin promotes Th2 type immune response in mice.

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Department of Immunology, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, Kitakyushu, Japan.


The effects of chronic administration of phenytoin, a common anticonvulsive drug, on immune responses were studied in mice. Anti-keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) IgE antibody response after KLH-immunization was enhanced in phenytoin-treated mice. Proliferative responses of spleen cells induced with KLH, concanavalin A (ConA), lipopolysaccharide and anti-CD3 antibody were reduced in phenytoin-treated mice. Accessory function of spleen adherent cells on ConA-induced T cell proliferative response was reduced in phenytoin-treated mice. KLH-induced IL-4 production of spleen cells was enhanced, while IFN-gamma production was reduced in phenytoin-treated mice. In addition, production of IL-1 alpha, but not IL-6 and IL-12 by spleen adherent cells from phenytoin-treated mice was reduced. Natural killer cell activity was reduced in phenytoin-treated mice. These results suggest that phenytoin treatment preferentially induces a Th2 type response. We also observed that plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels were increased in phenytoin-treated mice, and speculated that phenytoin might act directly and indirectly, through HPA axis activation, on the immune system to modulate Th1/Th2 balance.

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