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J Neuroimmunol. 2010 Jan 25;218(1-2):28-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2009.11.001. Epub 2009 Nov 24.

Modulating dendritic cells (DC) from immunogenic to tolerogenic responses: a novel mechanism of AZA/6-MP.

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Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Florence, Italy.


Azathioprine (Aza), 6-Mercaptopurine (6-MP) and 6-Thioguanine (6-TG) are thiopurine drugs widely used as immunosuppressants/anti-inflammatory agents in organ transplantation and chemotherapy. Aza is well tolerated and effective in modifying the course of MS. Here we investigated the action of 6-MP on human dendritic cells (DCs). We described for the first time that 6-MP impairs in vitro differentiation of DCs, has an inhibitory effect during DC activation processes inducing a functionally less immunogenic phenotype. Moreover, 6-MP significantly reduces DC IL-23 production and CCR7 expression, at the same time induces IL-10 augmentation. All these findings add a novel action mechanism in Aza immune modulation.

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