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Volume 49, Number 3, June 2016

Tacrolimus suppresses atopic dermatitis-associated cytokines and chemokines in monocytes 

Kai-Ting Chang, Hugo You-Hsien Lin, Chang-Hung Kuo, Chih-Hsing Hung


Corresponding author:

Corresponding authors. Cgug-Hsing Hung, Department of Pediatrics, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, 100 Tzyou First Road, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. 


Background and purpose: 

Calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) exhibit remarkable efficacy in atopic dermatitis (AD). Tacrolimus, one type of CNI, is prevalently used to treat AD. AD is a chronic inflammatory disease that exhibits predominant infiltration of T-helper type 2 (Th2) cell in the acute phase and a mixed Th1 and Th0 cell pattern in chronic lesions. Cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), Th2-related chemokines [e.g., macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC)/CCL22 and I-309/CCL1], Th1-related chemokines [e.g., interferon γ-induced protein 10 (IP-10)/CXCL10], and neutrophil chemoattractant growth-related oncogene-α (GRO-α)/CXCL1 are involved in the pathogenesis of AD. However, whether tacrolimus modulates the expression of AD-associated cytokines and chemokines remains unknown. The intracellular mechanisms of tacrolimus are also unclear. 



Human monocytic cell line THP-1 cells were pretreated with tacrolimus and stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The MDC, I-309, IP-10, GRO-α, and TNF-α concentrations of the cell supernatants were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Intracellular signaling was investigated using the Western blot analysis. 



Tacrolimus suppressed the expression of MDC, IP-10, I-309, GRO-α, and TNF-α in LPS-stimulated THP-1 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. All three mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors and the nuclear factor-κB inhibitor suppressed LPS-induced MDC, I-309, and TNF-α expressions in THP-1 cells. Only MAPK inhibitors suppressed LPS-induced expression of IP-10 and GRO-α. Tacrolimus suppressed the LPS-induced phosphorylation of MAPK-extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK). 



Tacrolimus suppressed LPS-induced MDC, I-309, IP-10, GRO-α, and TNF-α expressions in monocytes through the MAPK-ERK pathway; thus, tacrolimus may yield therapeutic efficacy by modulating AD-associated cytokines and chemokines. 


Key words:

atopic dermatitis, chemokine, cytokine, tacrolimus