Tetrandrine potentiates the glucocorticoid pharmacodynamicsviainhibiting P-glycoprotein and mitogen-activated protein kinase in mitogen-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells
Glucocorticoids play significant roles in treatments of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Some patients show a poor or absent response even to high doses of glucocorticoids. The purpose of this study was to explore whether tetrandrine combined with glucocorticoids could be a new treatment strategy to resolve glucocorticoids resistance. Information on glucocorticoids sensitivity was usually obtained through mitogen-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in cell culture procedures. Thus, human peripheral blood mononuclear cells was chosen as a model to study the immunosuppressive effect of methylprednisolone combined with tetrandrine, including the possible action mechanisms. Tetrandrine decreased the IC50 value of methylprednisolone significantly, but it showed little toxic effect on the concanavalin A-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Both tetrandrine and methylprednisolone inhibited the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-6 significantly and the combination showed stronger inhibitory ability. Tetrandrine and/or methylprednisolone did not increase the percentage of CD4+ CD25+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells in CD4+ T cells. However tetrandrine with or without methylprednisolone significantly inhibited the function of drug efflux pump P-glycoprotein 170 of CD4+, CD8+ T cells and lymphocytes. Tetrandrine tended to suppress the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase and this effect was potentiated by methylprednisolone. These tetrandrine effects were suggested to be beneficial for improving the immunosuppressive efficacy of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids combined with tetrandrine could be a new therapeutic approach to resolve glucocorticoids-resistance possibly via inhibiting the function of P-glycoprotein and blocking mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway from but not affecting on CD4+ CD25+ Foxp3+ regulatory cells.