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Allergy. 2009 Nov;64(11):1588-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02054.x. Epub 2009 Apr 29.

Low-dose cyclosporine A therapy increases the regulatory T cell population in patients with atopic dermatitis.

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Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum, Berlin, Germany.



Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a T cell dependent chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disorder successfully treated with cyclosporine A (CsA). Clinical observations indicate that even low-dose CsA therapy is successful in severely affected AD patients. We studied the impact of low-dose CsA therapy on the ability of T helper cells to be activated, and examined whether regulatory T (Treg) cells are increased in these patients.


Peripheral T cells were activated in a whole blood sample and interleukin-2 producing cells were measured by intracellular cytokine staining. Regulatory T cells were analyzed by intracellular FoxP3 staining. Regulatory T cells (CD4(+)CD25(+)CD127(low)) and effector T cells (CD4(+)CD25(-)CD127(+)) were sorted by flow cytometry and used for suppression assays.


A group of AD patients treated with low-dose CsA had a significantly larger Treg cell population than a healthy control subject group. In individual patients, onset of low-dose CsA therapy reduced the ability of T cells to be activated to 42 +/- 18% (P < 0.005) and significantly increased Treg cells, both in absolute numbers (1.6-fold change) and frequencies (1.7-fold change). Treg cells from AD patients showed similar suppressive capacities as Treg cells from healthy donors. Furthermore, Treg cells from AD patients had skin homing properties.


Our results indicate that the therapeutic effect of low-dose CsA therapy in AD patients might be not only mediated by the inhibition of T cell hyperactivity but also by an increased population of Treg cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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