Fingolimod Alters Tissue Distribution and Cytokine Production of Human and Murine Innate Lymphoid Cells

Front Immunol. 2019 Feb 13:10:217. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00217. eCollection 2019.


Sphingosine-1 phosphate receptor 1 (S1PR1) is expressed by lymphocytes and regulates their egress from secondary lymphoid organs. Innate lymphoid cell (ILC) family has been expanded with the discovery of group 1, 2 and 3 ILCs, namely ILC1, ILC2 and ILC3. ILC3 and ILC1 have remarkable similarity to CD4+ helper T cell lineage members Th17 and Th1, respectively, which are important in the pathology of multiple sclerosis (MS). Whether human ILC subsets express S1PR1 or respond to its ligands have not been studied. In this study, we used peripheral blood/cord blood and tonsil lymphocytes as a source of human ILCs. We show that human ILCs express S1PR1 mRNA and protein and migrate toward S1P receptor ligands. Comparison of peripheral blood ILC numbers between fingolimod-receiving and treatment-free MS patients revealed that, in vivo, ILCs respond to fingolimod, an S1PR1 agonist, resulting in ILC-penia in circulation. Similarly, murine ILCs responded to fingolimod by exiting blood and accumulating in the secondary lymph nodes. Importantly, ex vivo exposure of ILC3 and ILC1 to fingolimod or SEW2871, another S1PR1 antagonist, reduced production of ILC3- and ILC1- associated cytokines GM-CSF, IL-22, IL-17, and IFN-γ, respectively. Surprisingly, despite reduced number of lamina propria-resident ILC3s in the long-term fingolimod-treated mice, ILC3-associated IL-22, IL-17A, GM-CSF and antimicrobial peptides were high in the gut compared to controls, suggesting that its long term use may not compromise mucosal barrier function. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the impact of fingolimod on human ILC subsets in vivo and ex vivo, and provides insight into the impact of long term fingolimod use on ILC populations.

Keywords: FTY720; Fingolimod; ILC1; ILC3; S1PR1; SEW2871; multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Receptors / agonists
  • Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Receptors / metabolism*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / immunology
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Cytokines
  • S1PR1 protein, human
  • Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Receptors
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride