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J Biol Chem. 2011 Apr 1;286(13):11275-82. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.210518. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

Minocycline suppresses activation of nuclear factor of activated T cells 1 (NFAT1) in human CD4+ T cells.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Minocycline is a tetracycline family antibiotic that has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. These properties have shown promise in the treatment of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Huntington disease, and multiple sclerosis. As lymphocyte activation is involved in the pathogenesis of many of these diseases, T cells are postulated to be a primary target in minocycline therapy. Previous studies have demonstrated attenuation of CD4(+) T cell activation by minocycline, but a specific mechanism has not been elucidated. In this study, we investigated the effect of minocycline on the activity of three key transcription factors regulating CD4(+) T cell activation: NF-κB, AP-1 (activator protein 1), and NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T) cells. Our data demonstrate that minocycline selectively impairs NFAT-mediated transcriptional activation, a result of increased phosphorylation and reduced nuclear translocation of the isoform NFAT1. Minocycline increased the activity of the NFAT kinase GSK3 and decreased intracellular Ca(2+) flux, both of which facilitate NFAT1 phosphorylation. These findings provide a novel mechanism for minocycline induced suppression of CD4(+) T cell activation and may better inform the application of minocycline as an immunomodulatory agent.

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