Cyclosporin A inhibits the production of IL-17 by memory Th17 cells from healthy individuals and patients with rheumatoid arthritis

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Recent evidence from several studies indicated that IL-17-producing Th17 cells can represent the key effector cells in the induction and development of autoimmune disorders. Cyclosporine A (CsA) is a commonly used immunosuppressant to treat lots of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we demonstrated that PBMCs and purified CD4+ T cells from healthy individuals and patients with RA could be induced to produce large amounts of IL-17 after stimulation with anti-CD3 plus anti-CD28 mAbs. Phenotypic analysis indicated that the majority of IL-17-producing cells were Th17 cells with memory phenotype. The addition of CsA into cell cultures significantly inhibited the IL-17 production by Th17 cells at protein and at mRNA levels. Compared to the PBMCs from normal individuals, PBMCs from the patients with RA produced higher levels of IL-17 that was also significantly inhibited by CsA both at protein and at mRNA levels. The mechanism might be the effect of CsA on the T cells activation because the expression of CD69 and CD25 molecules on T cells was markedly reduced in the presence of CsA. Taken together, these results demonstrated that CsA suppressed the IL-17 production and inhibited the Th17 cells differentiation from both healthy individuals and patients with RA.

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