Cyclosporine and the immune response: basic aspects.

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66 Scopus citations


Cyclosporine (CsA) is a novel immunosuppressive agent currently used clinically, to prevent rejection of solid organ allografts and to prevent graft-vs.-host disease. Early studies in a variety of animal models exhibited transplantation tolerance after limited treatment with this unique agent. The apparent specific immunological unresponsiveness induced by CsA is thought to be maintained by antigen-specific suppressor T lymphocytes. Studies attempting to dissect the mechanism of action of this unique agent suggested that CsA selectively affected different T lymphocyte populations. Cyclosporine was very effective at inhibiting the production of interleukin-2 (IL-2), a soluble lymphokine known to amplify cytotoxic T cell responses and was also capable of preventing IL-2 receptor expression on the precursor cytotoxic T lymphocyte. In contrast, to the effect on T helper cells and on the precursor cytotoxic T lymphocyte, studies in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that CsA had a sparing effect on suppressor T cell induction. More recent studies have indicated that CsA allows for the amplification of suppressor T lymphocytes independent of interleukin-2 indicating that other cellular and/or soluble factors are important for potentiation of suppressor T lymphocyte activity. However, the molecular action of CsA at the cellular level still remains unresolved. Thus, CsA is not only a useful drug in clinical transplantation but it has become increasingly important as an immunologic probe allowing the dissection of complex cellular interactions involved in the immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-149
Number of pages27
JournalCritical reviews in immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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