PLANT ALKALOID TETRANDRINE AND ITS ANALOG BLOCK CD28-COSTIMULATED ACTIVITIES OF HUMAN PERIPHERAL BLOOD T CELLS
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BACKGROUND: T lymphocyte activation mediated by CD28 costimulation plays a critical role in graft rejection. Plant alkaloid tetrandrine, purified from a Chinese antirheumatic herb, is a potent immunosuppressant. Here, we examined its effects on several CD28-costimulated T-cell activities. In addition, such effects were readily compared with the effects of three tetrandrine analogs. METHODS: T lymphocytes were purified from whole blood by negative selection. The stimuli that mimic CD28 costimulation included both anti-CD3 + anti-CD28 monoclonal antibody and PMA+anti-CD28 monoclonal antibody. The determination of CD28-costimulated cell proliferation was performed by tritium uptake, cytokine production by ELISA, cell surface interleukin 2Ra and CD69 expression by flow cytometry, and mixed leukocyte reaction by tritium uptake. Drug cytotoxicity was determined by trypan blue exclusion, propidium iodide staining, and MTT colorimetric assays. RESULTS: Tetrandrine inhibited CD28-costimulated T-cell proliferation and cytokine production through a mechanism different from that of cyclosporine. In addition, tetrandrine down-regulated both T helper 1 and T helper 2 cytokine production in CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell subpopulations. By examining cytokine production and T-cell activation marker expression, we further demonstrated that, among tetrandrine and its analogs tested, dauricine was the most potent suppressor of CD28-costimulated T-cell activities. Furthermore, the different immunosuppressive activities of these compounds were not associated with their cytotoxic capacities. Finally, the unparalleled inhibitory potency of dauricine on both mixed leukocyte reaction and CD28-costimulated T-cell proliferation suggests that dauricine preferentially targeted CD28-costimulated T-cell activities. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first report to show that tetrandrine and its analogs potently inhibited both PMA+CD28-costimulated and CD3 + CD28-costimulated activation of human peripheral blood T cells. Based upon their structural similarity and different immunosuppressive potency, these in vitro data also provide very useful information for further identification and development of more potent and less toxic immunosuppressants to achieve transplantation success.
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