Cytokine dysregulation in activated cystic fibrosis (CF) peripheral lymphocytes

Clin Exp Immunol. 2000 Jun;120(3):518-25. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.2000.01232.x.


Recent studies demonstrate in vivo and in vitro cytokine dysregulation in CF epithelial cells. To see if these abnormalities may be generalized to other cells expressing cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) but not directly exposed to local inflammation, we studied mRNA transcription, intracellular protein production and extracellular secretion of IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) from freshly isolated blood mononuclear and CD4+ T cells from CF patients and controls. Cells were activated by phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) and anti-CD3, PMA-ionomycin, or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and assessed for cytokine mRNA transcription by semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, intracellular protein production by flow cytometry, and secretion by supernatant ELISA. Cytokine expression was highly stimulus-dependent. CF cells showed higher IL-10 transcription than control cells after maximal activation by LPS (P = 0.01); despite this, cytokine production and secretion were equivalent to controls. CF cells showed lower cellular IL-10 production after PMA-anti-CD3 activation (P = 0.002). CF cells secreted less IFN-gamma than control cells after maximal activation by PMA-anti-CD3 (1836 +/- 273 pg/ml versus 9635 +/- 3437 pg/ml, P = 0.04). IL-2, IL-4 and IL-5 regulation was similar to controls. We conclude that CF mononuclear cells show selective cytokine dysregulation after maximal activation, namely reduced IFN-gamma secretion and increased IL-10 mRNA without increased production or secretion. These findings extend defects described in respiratory epithelial cells to circulating immunoregulatory cells, suggesting a link between CF genotype and cytokine dysregulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / blood*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology


  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate