Mycophenolic acid and methotrexate inhibit lymphocyte cytokine production via different mechanisms

Sacha de Lathouder, Andreas H. Gerards, Els R. de Groot, Marijke Valkhof, Lucien A. Aarden

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Mycophenolic acid (MPA) and methotrexate (MTX) are immunosuppressive drugs used for the treatment of various immunological disorders. MPA is an inhibitor of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase and MTX is a folate antagonist that inhibits tetrahydrofolate reductase. Production of T cell cytokines in whole blood cultures, as well as in PBMC cultures, is inhibited by a low concentration of both drugs. Inhibition of cytokine production after monocyte stimulation was less evident. The mechanism by which inhibition is achieved is different for both drugs. Inhibition of T cell cytokine production by MPA was more profound and started earlier compared to the inhibition by MTX. MTX induced apoptosis in T cells that became activated, whereas MPA prevented activation of T cells by arresting the cell cycle in the G0/G1 phase. Addition of guanosine and adenosine can overcome this cell cycle arrest, even after several days. Furthermore MPA inhibited the expression of activation markers HLA-DR and CD71 on T cells. The observation that MTX cannot prevent T cell activation but induces apoptosis in activated T cells, and that MPA reversibly prevents activation of T cells could explain the immunosuppressive effects of both these drugs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-323
JournalEuropean cytokine network
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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