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Methotrexate induces poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-dependent, caspase 3-independent apoptosis in subsets of proliferating CD4+ T cells

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The mechanism of action of methotrexate (MTX) in autoimmune diseases (AID) is unclear. A pro-apoptotic effect has been demonstrated in mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), but studies employing conventional antigens have disputed a pro-apoptotic effect. CD4+ T helper (Th) cells play a significant role in most AID. We therefore examined directly, by flow cytometry, the uptake of MTX by the T helper (Th) cells stimulated for 6 days with Candida albicans (CA) or tetanus toxoid (TT), and its consequences with respect to induction of apoptosis. While none of the resting Th cells took up MTX, nearly all the dividing Th cells did, and this abrogated further cell division. Among dividing Th cells, MTX induced an approximately sixfold increase over baseline levels in the proportion of apoptotic cells. This proportion could be reverted to baseline by the addition of folic acid. Exposure of CA-stimulated PBMC to MTX significantly increased their level of cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), and a similar tendency was observed in TT-stimulated cells. Unlike CA and TT, the mitogen phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) induced proliferation of both CD4- and CD4+ T cells, and induced apoptosis in both undivided and divided Th cells. PHA-induced apoptosis involved activation of caspase-3 and the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 in addition to PARP cleavage, suggesting that PHA induces apoptosis via different pathways than CA and TT. We suggest that the latter are more representative of stimulation with self-antigens in AID, and that a pro-apoptotic effect of MTX on self-antigen-stimulated Th cells contributes to the effect of MTX in the treatment of AID.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftClinical and Experimental Immunology
Vol/bind148
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)288-95
Antal sider8
ISSN0009-9104
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1 maj 2007

ID: 34078241