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Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Dec 20;6(13-14):1902-10. Epub 2006 Aug 30.

FTY720 preferentially depletes naive T cells from peripheral and lymphoid organs.

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Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Transplantation Research, Autoimmunity/Transplantation Disease Area, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland. <>


The sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor agonist FTY720 induces lymphopenia by inhibiting lymphocyte egress from thymus and lymph nodes. The immediate effect of the drug on T cells in blood and lymphoid tissues is well documented, however effects on peripheral T cell sub-populations have not been studied. We therefore analyzed the changes in T cell subset compositions in liver, lung, kidney, spleen, lymph nodes and blood induced by FTY720-treatment using 9-parameter flow cytometry. In untreated mice, naive T cells were present in all peripheral organs. Naive T cells were depleted from peripheral organs within 3 days by FTY720, and with slower kinetics from lymphoid organs. Antigen-experienced T cell subsets were less affected by FTY720-treatment and substantial numbers were retained in the periphery. The proportion of CD8(+)CD44(+)CD43(+) Gr-1(+) effector memory cells increased after FTY720-treatment, while that of CD8(+)CD44(+)CD62L(+) central memory cells was unchanged. Our data demonstrate that naive T cells pass peripheral tissues as part of their default recirculation pathway. FTY720 treatment primarily affects the recirculation of naive and central memory cells, both of which re-circulate through lymph nodes on a regular basis, but does not influence effector memory cells. This suggests that treatment with FTY720 may not interfere with immune functions mediated locally by tissue-resident peripheral effector/memory T cells.

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