The effect of azithromycin on the maturation and function of murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells

Clin Exp Immunol. 2011 Dec;166(3):385-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2011.04480.x.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells capable of initiating primary/adaptive immune responses and tolerance. DC functions are regulated by their state of maturation. However, the molecular pathways leading to DC development and maturation remain poorly understood. We attempted to determine whether inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), which is one of the pivotal pathways underlying these processes, could induce immunophenotypic and functional changes in lipopolysaccharide-induced mature DCs derived from murine bone marrow. A comparative in vitro study of five clinically used drugs that are known to inhibit NF-κB demonstrated that azithromycin, a macrolide antibiotic, significantly inhibited expression of co-stimulatory molecules (CD40 and CD86) and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II by DCs. It also reduced Toll-like receptor 4 expression, interleukin-12 production and the allostimulatory capacity of DCs. These data suggest that azithromycin, as not only an NF-κB inhibitor but also an antibiotic, has potential as a novel drug for manipulation of allogeneic responses.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Azithromycin / pharmacology*
  • B7-2 Antigen / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • CD40 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology
  • Clarithromycin / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors
  • NF-kappa B / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / immunology


  • B7-2 Antigen
  • CD40 Antigens
  • Cytokines
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Interleukin-12
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Azithromycin
  • Clarithromycin