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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2007 May;39(9):537-45. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Rapamycin, not cyclosporine, permits thymic generation and peripheral preservation of CD4+ CD25+ FoxP3+ T cells.

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Department of Bloodtransfusion and Transplantation Immunology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD) is the most common cause of poor outcome after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT). Of late, exploitation of FOXP3(+) regulatory T-cell (T(REG)) function is emerging as a promising strategy in suppression of GVHD, while preserving graft-versus-leukemia (GVL). Cyclosporine and rapamycin reduce the expansion of effector T cells by blocking interleukin (IL)-2, but signaling by IL-2 is pivotal for T(REG) homeostasis. The resolution of GVHD is critically dependent on thymus-dependent reconstitution of the immunoregulatory system. Thus, there has been concern about the impact of blocking IL-2 signaling by immunosuppressive agents on T(REG) homeostasis. Here we demonstrate in a mouse model that in contrast to rapamycin, cyclosporine compromises not only the thymic generation of CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+) T cells but also their homeostatic behavior in peripheral immune compartments. Treatment with cyclosporine resulted in a sharp reduction of peripheral CD25(+)FoxP3(+) T cells in all immune compartments studied. Prolonged rapamycin treatment allowed for thymic generation of CD4(+)FoxP3(+) T cells, whereas treatment with cyclosporine led to a reduced generation of these cells. In conclusion, cyclosporine and rapamycin differentially affect homeostasis of CD4(+)FoxP3(+) T(REG) in vivo. As peripheral tolerance induction is a prerequisite for successful treatment outcome after allogeneic SCT, these findings are of potential clinical relevance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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