Influence of in vivo immunosuppressive drugs on production of lymphokines

Transplantation. 1985 Feb;39(2):143-7. doi: 10.1097/00007890-198502000-00007.


The influence in vivo of immunosuppressive drugs (cyclosporine, azathioprine, and corticosteroids) on the production of various lymphokines (alpha and gamma interferon, interleukin 2), both in organ transplant recipients and in normal volunteers taking 100 mg hydrocortisone orally has been studied. To avoid interference with the rejection process or viral infection, patients were studied in a steady state with low maintenance immunosuppression consisting of prednisolone combined with azathioprine or with cyclosporine. In patients treated with both drug regimens, significant depression of production of the three lymphokines was found. Normal volunteers challenged with 100 mg hydrocortisone showed inhibition of production of interleukin 2 and alpha and gamma interferon in 4 hr, a time corresponding to the nadir of T cell lymphopenia, affecting the OKT4 subset preferentially. The percentage of OKT8 cells remained unchanged. Percentages of large granular lymphocytes increased, but their absolute number was not significantly modified. Changes in lymphocyte markers were fully reversible after 24 hr, but interleukin 2 production remained markedly depressed, showing that the redistribution patterns induced by corticosteroids on lymphocyte subsets may be dissociated from functional consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / pharmacology
  • Azathioprine / pharmacology
  • Cyclosporins / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Interferon Type I / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphokines / biosynthesis*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Cyclosporins
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Interferon Type I
  • Interleukin-2
  • Lymphokines
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Azathioprine