The Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors Pentoxifylline and Rolipram Prevent Diabetes in NOD Mice

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Interleukin (IL)-12, interferon (IFN)-gamma, and other inflammatory cytokines play an important role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune insulitis and diabetes in NOD mice, and inhibition of these cytokines is likely to be beneficial. In this study, we found that Pentoxifylline (PTX) and Rolipram (phosphodiesterase [PDE] inhibitors that induce increased intracellular cAMP) can block inflammatory cytokine production. Inhibition of IL-12 and IFN-gamma secretion was demonstrated in macrophages activated with lipopolysaccharide or T-cells stimulated through the CD3/T-cell receptor complex, respectively. Moreover, strong inhibition of IL-12 was demonstrated in vivo in superantigen-immunized mice. Rolipram was inhibitory at concentrations as low as 10 sup -8 to 10 sup -7 mol/l, and on a molar basis, it was 100-fold more effective than PTX. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha was also inhibited, but IL-4 was less sensitive to suppression. In NOD mice, both PTX and Rolipram reduced the severity of insulitis and prevented diabetes, with or without cyclophosphamide administration (which precipitates onset of disease). This protection of NOD mice was still apparent over 10 weeks after withdrawal of the drug treatment. It appears that blocking the activity of type IV PDE is sufficient to mediate the effects reported in this study, since Rolipram inhibits only this isoform, unlike PTX (a general inhibitor). PTX and Rolipram may be effective in the treatment of autoimmune diabetes or other conditions characterized by excessive production of inflammatory cytokines. Diabetes 47:570-575, 1998

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