Effects of mycophenolic acid on endothelial cells

Int Immunopharmacol. 2005 Jun;5(6):1029-39. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2005.01.015.


Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) is a potent immunosuppressant that inhibits the activity of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH), the rate-limiting enzyme in de novo synthesis of guanosine nucleotides. MMF has been used widely in solid-organ transplantation. Increased evidence indicated that MMF exhibited beneficial effects on various types of vasculitis, for reasons that were not fully understood. Endothelial cells play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of vasculitis. Endothelium may not only be the main target for injury, but also be able to amplify the inflammatory response by adhesion molecule expression, leukocyte adhesion, cytokine production and angiogenesis. In the present study, the effect of mycophenolic acid (MPA), the active metabolite of MMF, on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) was investigated. MPA markedly inhibited tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha)-induced intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) mRNA and surface expression, suppressed TNFalpha-induced neutrophils adhesion to endothelial cells, and reduced TNFalpha-induced interleukin-6 (IL-6) secretion. The inhibitory effects of MPA on ICAM-1 surface expression and IL-6 secretion were not attenuated by addition of guanosine, implying that inhibition of these processes were not due to intracellular guanosine nucleotides depletion. MPA also decreased angiogenesis of endothelial cells in three-dimensional collagen gel culture system, reduced the migration in a wounded monolayer of endothelial cells, and inhibited the proliferation of endothelial cells. In conclusion, MPA exhibited multifarious effects on endothelial cells including inhibition of ICAM-1 expression, neutrophil attachment, IL-6 secretion, and the process of angiogenesis, which might contribute to the efficacy of MMF in the treatment of vasculitis.

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Mycophenolic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Interleukin-6
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Mycophenolic Acid