Immunosuppressant FTY720 inhibits thymocyte emigration

Eur J Immunol. 2000 May;30(5):1435-44. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-4141(200005)30:5<1435::AID-IMMU1435>3.0.CO;2-O.


One major role of the thymus is to provide the peripheral immune system with mature T cells, but the mechanisms involving the cellular export are not fully understood. In this study, we examined the ability of a novel immunosuppressive reagent, FTY720, to inhibit T cell export from the thymus. Daily administration of FTY720 at a dose of 1 mg / kg resulted in a marked decrease in the number of peripheral blood T lymphocytes. In the thymus, long-term daily administration of FTY720 caused a three- to fourfold increase in the proportion of mature medullary thymocytes (CD4(+)CD8(-) and CD4(-)CD8(+)) as well as a slight decrease in the double-positive cell (CD4(+)CD8(+)) ratio. Phenotypic analysis (TCRalpha beta, H-2K(d), CD44, CD69 and CD24) revealed that these increased subsets represent possible peripheral recent thymic emigrants. High level expression of L-selectin by these subsets further suggests that they were prevented from leaving the thymus. By intrathymic labeling with fluorescein isothiocyanate, only one fourth of labeled cells could be detected in the lymph nodes and in the spleen of FTY720-treated mice compared to saline-treated control mice. Taken together, these results suggest that the immunosuppressive action of FTY720, at least in part, could be due to its inhibitory effect on T cell emigration from the thymus to the periphery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Movement / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Propylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride
  • Sphingosine