Hydroxyurea and Zileuton Differentially Modulate Cell Proliferation and Interleukin-2 Secretion by Murine Spleen Cells: Possible Implication on the Immune Function and Risk of Pain Crisis in Patients with Sickle Cell Disease

Ochsner J. 2015 Fall;15(3):241-7.


Background: Hydroxyurea (HU) reduces major complications associated with sickle cell disease in part because of the induction of fetal hemoglobin. However, because of its antiproliferative property, its long-term use may impair immunity. Zileuton, a derivative of HU, also induces fetal hemoglobin and has antiinflammatory properties, a feature that can reduce the risk of sickling. Our goal was to investigate the capacity of both drugs to modulate the secretion of interleukin-2 (IL-2), a regulatory cytokine for immune responses.

Methods: Spleen cells obtained from 11 4-month-old C57BL/6 female mice were incubated without and with 10 μg/mL HU or zileuton, 2.5 μg/mL concanavalin A (ConA), 20 μg/mL phytohemagglutinin (PHA), and 50 ng/mL anti-CD3 antibody for 12-48 h. IL-2 was measured in the supernatant by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and cell proliferation by (3)H-thymidine uptake.

Results: While HU reduced lymphocyte proliferation in response to mitogens (P<0.05), zileuton did not. Baseline IL-2 concentration and PHA-induced IL-2 were not significantly affected by either drug. Contrary to what we expected, while HU increased IL-2 supernatant levels 1.17-fold to 6.5-fold in anti-CD3 antibody-treated cells (P<0.05), zileuton decreased them 35%-65% (P<0.05). Zileuton likely reduced IL-2 levels by inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase, hence leukotriene B4 production, an IL-2 inducer. HU did not decrease IL-2 secretion likely because of its lack of effect on mRNA and protein synthesis.

Conclusion: Modulation of IL-2 secretion by zileuton and/or reduced lymphocyte proliferation by HU may impair the immune response of patients with sickle cell disease but may also be beneficial by attenuating inflammation independently of fetal hemoglobin induction.

Keywords: Anemia–sickle cell; hydroxyurea; interleukin-2; mice; zileuton.