Differing effects of clarithromycin and azithromycin on cytokine production by murine dendritic cells

Clin Exp Immunol. 2007 Mar;147(3):540-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2007.03299.x.


Summary The macrolide antibiotics are now well known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Because dendritic cells (DCs) orchestrate immune responses, we examined the in vitro effects of clarithromycin (CAM), azithromycin (AZM) and midecamycin (MDM) on the expression of co-stimulatory molecules and production of cytokines [interleukin (IL)-10, IL-6, interferon (IFN)-gamma, IL-12p40, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha] of murine bone marrow-derived DCs by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation. A 15-membered macrolide, AZM, and a 14-membered macrolide, CAM, significantly enhanced the intensity of a co-stimulatory molecule, CD80, on DCs but not CD86 and CD40. AZM significantly increased the production of IL-10 and CAM significantly inhibited the production of IL-6 by DCs. However, a 16-membered macrolide, MDM, did not have any significant effect on these surface markers and cytokine productions. Moreover, AZM increased IL-10 and CAM decreased IL-2 productions significantly, when naive T cells derived from spleen were co-cultured with DCs treated in advance with LPS and these macrolides. These findings suggest that 14-membered and 15-membered, but not 16-membered macrolides play as anti-inflammatory agents, at least in part, through modulating the functions of DCs. However, each macrolide affects them in different ways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Azithromycin / pharmacology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clarithromycin / pharmacology*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Female
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antigens, CD
  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Azithromycin
  • Clarithromycin