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Clin Exp Immunol. 2005 Nov;142(2):333-40.

The effects of atorvastatin on gluten-induced intestinal T cell responses in coeliac disease.

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Institute of Immunology, University of Oslo, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Norway.


Various experimental models suggest that the cholesterol-lowering drugs statins may also modulate immune responses. Cellular level studies on human disorders are needed, however, to provide a rational basis for clinical testing of statins as immune therapy. Coeliac disease, a chronic small intestinal inflammation driven by HLA-DQ2 restricted mucosal T cells that are specific for ingested wheat gluten peptides, is in many ways ideal for this purpose. In addition, there is a need for alternative treatment to the gluten-free diet in this disorder. Here we have assessed the effects of atorvastatin on gluten-reactive T cells, dendritic cells and the coeliac mucosa by in vitro culture of biopsies. Atorvastatin inhibited gluten-induced proliferation and specific cytokine production of human intestinal gluten-reactive T cell clones and lines. Dendritic cells exposed to atorvastatin displayed a reduced expression of the costimulatory molecule CD83 upon maturation with lipopolysaccharide. Incubation of intestinal biopsy specimens with atorvastatin in vitro, however, did not influence gluten-induced cytokine release. In conclusion, atorvastatin has specific effects on isolated gluten-reactive T cells and dendritic cells, but does not shut down the gluten-induced production of proinflammatory cytokines in intestinal biopsies.

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