Cetirizine and allopurinol as novel weapons against cellular autoimmune disorders

Int Immunopharmacol. 2004 Mar;4(3):349-53. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2004.01.022.


Type 1, or cellular, immune response is characterized by overproduction of TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, IL-1, IL-2 and IL-8 and is the underlying immune mechanism of psoriasis, alopecia areata, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU). Type 2 immune response is seen in antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases. Based on the pharmacokinetic effects of cetirizine and allopurinol, this paper introduces these two safe and inexpensive drugs as novel potential agents against cell-mediated autoimmune disorders. Cetirizine, supposed to inhibit DNA binding activity of NF-kappa B, inhibits the expression of adhesion molecules on immunocytes and endothelial cells and the production of IL-8 and LTB4, two potent chemoattractants, by immune cells. It induces the release of PGE2, a suppressor of antigen presentation and MHC class II expression, from monocyte/macrophages and reduces the number of tryptase positive mast cells in inflammation sites. Tryptase is a chemoattractant, generates kinins from kininogen, activates mast cells, triggers maturation of dendritic cells and stimulates the release of IL-8 from endothelial cells and the production of Th1 lymphokines by mononuclear immunocytes. Allopurinol is a free radical scavenger, suppresses the production of TNF-alpha and downregulates the expression of ICAM-1 and P2X(7) receptors on monocyte/macrophages. ICAM-1 serves as a ligand for LFA-1 (on T lymphocytes), allowing proper antigen presentation. P2X(7) receptors are thought to be involved in IL-1beta release, mitogenic stimulation of T lymphocytes and the probable cytoplasmic communication between macrophages and lymphocytes at inflammation sites. Allopurinol was markedly more effective than prednisolone in treating experimental autoimmune uveitis and in combination with cyclosporine suppressed the inflammatory reaction of this condition more effectively than either agent alone. As allopurinol is a competitive inhibitor of xanthine oxidase and decreases serum levels of uric acid, which is protective against multiple sclerosis, it should preferably be coadministered with uric acid precursors in the treatment of this condition. Cetirizine and allopurinol may prove of benefit in the treatment of various cellular autoimmune disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Allopurinol / therapeutic use*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Cetirizine / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Free Radical Scavengers / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Allopurinol
  • Cetirizine