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Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Mar;151(3):391-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2007.03572.x. Epub 2008 Jan 10.

Imatinib mesylate, a new kid on the block for the treatment of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies-associated vasculitis?

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Fifth Medical Department, University Hospital Mannheim, Medical Faculty of Mannheim of the University of Heidelberg, Germany.


Persistent T cell activation is a common finding in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA)-associated systemic vasculitis (AAV) patients. Because imatinib, a selective inhibitor of the ABL, ARG, PDGFR and c-KIT tyrosine kinases, inhibits T cell activation, this study was conducted to evaluate the potential use of imatinib for the treatment AAV patients refractory to conventional therapy. In particular, we investigated the inhibition of T cell activation by this drug and its efficacy on activated T cells from anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA)-associated systemic vasculitides (AASV) patients. T cell stimulation has been induced by anti-CD3/anti-CD28 antibodies or by phorbol myristate acetate (PMA)/ionomycin. T cell proliferation was analysed by tritiumthymidine incorporation. Cell cycle progression was determined by propidium iodide staining using fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis and by RNAse protection assay (RPA). Cytokine levels were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. T cell proliferation was inhibited significantly by imatinib, due most probably to cell cycle arrest in the G1-phase. This was paralleled by inhibition in the expression of cyclin-dependent kinases 1 and 2 mRNA. The expression of CD25 in naive and memory T cells was decreased significantly by imatinib in activated T cells. Similarly, conversion from naive to memory T cells after T cell activation was impaired by imatinib. Imatinib did not influence interleukin-2 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha production but increased interferon-gamma production. These observed effects of imatinib were similar in T cells from AASV patients and from healthy individuals. Imatinib might be an alternative therapeutical option for AASV patients refractory to conventional therapy.

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