Abnormal differentiation of thymocytes in mice treated with cyclosporin A

Nature. 1988 Nov 10;336(6195):176-9. doi: 10.1038/336176a0.


Cyclosporin A (CsA) acts as a powerful immunosuppressive agent, and also, when given in repeated doses, can cause T-cell-dependent graft-versus-host disease and organ-specific autoimmune disease in rodents. This suggests that CsA interferes with the processes governing self-tolerance, either by nullifying the activity of T suppressor cells or by preventing the deletion of autoreactive T cells during ontogeny in the thymus. We report here that irradiated mice given repeated injections of CsA show striking dysfunction of the thymus. There are two different effects, the first of which is that CsA seems to block the differentiation of immature CD4+CD8+ thymocytes into mature CD4+CD8- and CD4-CD8+ cells expressing a high density of T-cell receptors and CD3 molecules. Second, CsA-treated mice show incomplete deletion of T cells expressing T-cell receptor molecules reactive to self H-2 I-E molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / analysis
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cyclosporins / pharmacology*
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects
  • Thymus Gland / cytology


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Cyclosporins