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Kidney Int. 2002 Oct;62(4):1291-300.

Triptolide is a potent suppressant of C3, CD40 and B7h expression in activated human proximal tubular epithelial cells.

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Department of Nephrology and Transplantation, Guy's Hospital, London SE1 9RT, England, United Kingdom.



Previous studies have shown that triptolide possesses potent immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties. Increasing recognition of the importance of the proximal tubular epithelial cells (PTEC) in renal disease and renal transplantation raises the question of whether triptolide suppresses the pro-inflammatory activity of PTEC.


Cultured human PTEC were exposed to tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and immunosuppressant (triptolide or CsA or FK506) for 24 hours, followed by RT-PCR, ELISA, flow cytometry and Western blotting analysis for complement C3, CD40, B7h expression.


TNF-alpha up-regulated C3, CD40 and B7h production by PTEC. This up-regulation was inhibited by all three immunosuppressants with different intensity. Firstly, triptolide (4 to 8 ng/mL), CsA (4000 to 6000 ng/mL) and FK506 (2000 ng/mL) inhibited up-regulation of C3 mRNA, but CsA and FK506 had less of an effect than triptolide. Secondly, triptolide (4 to 8 ng/mL) completely inhibited C3 expression at both mRNA and protein levels. In contrast, CsA and FK506 had only slight effects on C3 expression at the protein level. Thirdly, triptolide (4 to 8 ng/mL), CsA (500 to 2500 ng/mL) and FK506 (1250 ng/mL) inhibited up-regulation of CD40 and B7h mRNA, the effect on B7h and CD40 mRNA expression by CsA and FK506 being greater than that on C3 mRNA expression.


Triptolide effectively inhibited up-regulation of C3, CD40 and B7h on PTEC. Triptolide was more effective than CsA and FK506 at inhibiting C3 expression. This suggests that triptolide, at non-cytotoxic concentrations, has the potential to reduce the inflammatory and immunostimulatory properties of PTEC, in addition to any of the previously reported actions on T cell or B cell function.

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