Inhibitory effects of cyclosporine on human regulatory T cells in vitro

C Miroux, O Moralès, A Carpentier, S Dharancy, F Conti, E Boleslowski, P Podevin, C Auriault, V Pancré, N Delhem
Transplantation Proceedings 2009, 41 (8): 3371-4

BACKGROUND: Inevitable hepatitis C virus (HCV) recurrence after liver transplantation is a major barrier to the survival of a transplanted liver. It may be promoted by immunosuppression and the emergence of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg). Treg cells can mediate the induction and maintenance of immunological self-tolerance as well as transplant tolerance. We investigated the effects of cyclosporine (CsA), a widely used immunosuppressive agent, on human CD4+CD25+ Treg cells.

METHODS: Human CD4+CD25+ cells isolated from healthy donors were cultured in the presence of 40 or 400 ng/mL CsA. The suppressive activity of Treg was assessed in mixed leukocyte reactions (MLR) using CD25+ and autologous activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Phenotype analysis (flow cytometric, Q-PCR) and cytokine production (ELISA) of Treg cells were then performed on cultures.

RESULTS: CsA (40 or 400 ng/mL) inhibited the proliferative capacity of PBMC and CD4+CD25+ Treg in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, addition of 40 ng/mL CsA in MLR impaired the suppressive activity of CD4+CD25+ cells, whereas a higher dose of CsA had no effect on Treg function. It appears that a therapeutic dose of CsA (40 ng/mL) did not change the phenotype of CD4+CD25+ T cells, but altered Treg activity by switching the regulatory to an inflammatory cytokine profile.

CONCLUSION: CsA significantly impaired the function of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells by inducing interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) secretion. The present studies suggested that CsA may block the induction of immune tolerance and decrease the risk of hepatitis C recurrence.

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