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Endocrinology. 2008 Jul;149(7):3626-34. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0078. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Elocalcitol inhibits inflammatory responses in human thyroid cells and T cells.

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Department of Clinical Pathophysiology, Unit of Endocrinology, University of Florence, Viale Pieraccini 6, Florence, Italy.


T-helper 1 (Th1) cell-mediated inflammatory responses predominate in the early pathogenesis of Graves' disease (GD), whereas Th2 cell-mediated immunity may play a role in later stages. The chemokine CXCL10 and its receptor CXCR3 are expressed in most thyroid glands of early GD patients. Circulating CXCL10 levels inversely correlate with disease duration; CXCL10 maximal expression also correlates with interferon (IFN)gamma levels in recent GD onset. Methimazole (MMI) reduces CXCL10 secretion by isolated thyrocytes, decreases serum CXCL10 levels, and promotes a transition from Th1 to Th2 dominance in patients in GD active phase. Vitamin D receptor agonists exhibit antiinflammatory properties and promote tolerance induction. We investigated the effects and the mechanism of action of a nonhypercalcemic vitamin D receptor agonist, elocalcitol (BXL-628), compared with MMI on CXCL10 secretion induced by proinflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, we studied the effects of both drugs on Th1, Th17, and Th2 cytokine secretion in CD4+ T cells. ELISA, cytometry, immunocytochemistry, Western blot, and quantitative real-time PCR were used for protein and gene analysis. In human thyrocytes, elocalcitol inhibited IFNgamma and TNFalpha-induced CXCL10 protein secretion more potently than MMI. Elocalcitol impaired both cytokine intracellular pathways, whereas MMI was effective only on the IFNgamma pathway. In CD4+ T cells, elocalcitol decreased Th1- and Th17-type cytokines, and promoted Th2-type cytokine secretion. Elocalcitol and MMI inhibited Th1 cytokine-mediated responses in thyrocytes and CD4+ T cells. In addition, elocalcitol promoted a shift toward a Th2 response. In conclusion, elocalcitol could represent a novel pharmacological tool in the treatment of autoimmune thyroid diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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