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Clin Exp Immunol. 1998 Jun;112(3):501-6.

Selective depletion of CD14+ CD16+ monocytes by glucocorticoid therapy.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine I, Klinikum Grosshadern, University of Munich, Germany.


Glucocorticoids (GC) are potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive agents that act on many cells of the body, including monocytes. Here we show that a 5-day course of high dose GC therapy differentially affected the CD14++ and the CD14+ CD16+ monocyte subpopulations in 10 patients treated for multiple sclerosis. While the classical (CD14++) monocytes exhibited a substantial increase from 495 +/- 132 to 755 +/- 337 cells/microl, the CD14+ CD16+ monocytes responded with a pronounced decrease from 36 +/- 15 to 2 +/- 3 cells/microl (P < 0.001). In 4/10 patients the CD14+ CD16+ monocytes fell below detection limits (<0.2 cells/microl). This observation was confirmed when the CD14+ CD16+ monocytes were identified by virtue of their low CD33 expression as these cells decreased as well. After discontinuation of GC therapy the CD14+ CD16+ monocytes reappeared and reached normal levels after 1 week. The profound depletion of CD14+ CD16+ monocytes by GC as described here is a novel effect of GC action in vivo and may contribute to GC-mediated immunosuppression. Determination of the number of this monocyte subset may also serve to monitor the effectiveness of GC therapy in patients requiring immunosuppressive treatment.

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