Published December 1, 1975 - More info
The immunosuppressive activities of two phase-specific drugs, 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and methotrexate, and a cycle-specific agent, cyclophosphamide, were evaluated on the lymphocytic component of established tuberculin hypersensitivity in guinea pigs. In these animals, purified protein derivative (PPD)-sensitive lymphocytes are in an intermitotic phase of their proliferative cycle. Neither phase-specific drug significantly altered either the number or functional activities of these lymphocytes. By two in vitro criteria, PPD-induced lymphoproliferation and elaboration of migration inhibition factor (MIF), the responses of lymph node cells were equivalent to sensitized controls. In addition, these agents did not deplete pools of T lymphocytes, impair responses to phytohemagglutinin (PHA), nor inhibit cutaneous reactivity if employed before sensitization. In contrast, cyclophosphamide showed broader immunosuppressive effects including significant toxicities for intermitotic lymphocytes. This drug depleted pools of T cells and markedly impaired the in vitro proliferative responses of residual lymphocytes. The latter occurred with both PHA and PPD. Suppression of PHA reactivity was a dose-dependent phenomenon but was evident even with small quantities of this alkylating agent. The suppression of antigen-induced responses was independent of the proliferative status of target lymphocytes in vivo, after a single large dose, it persisted for more than 3 wk. In total, these results indicate that the effective use of cytotoxic drugs as immunosuppressants must include consideration of both the cycle specificities of the agent and the proliferative activities of the target lymphoid population.