The effect of immunosuppressive drugs on the generation of T follicular helper (Tfh) cells, specialized in supporting B-cell differentiation, is largely unknown. We examined whether the calcineurin inhibitor tacrolimus (TAC) and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mtor) inhibitor sirolimus (SRL) inhibit Tfh cell differentiation, and affect subsequent B-cell functions. Isolated naive T cells were polarized into Tfh-like cells in the presence of TAC or SRL. To demonstrate their functionality, we co-cultured these cells with isolated B cells in the presence of alloantigen and studied the activation and differentiation of these B cells. Tfh-like cells were defined as CD4+CXCR5+ T cells, expressing immunoinhibitory programmed death protein 1 (pd1) and inducible T-cell costimulator (icos). We found that TAC and SRL significantly inhibited Tfh-like cell differentiation. Therapeutic concentrations of TAC and SRL reduced the percentage of pd1+ and icos+ Tfh cells compared to controls. In addition, T cells grown in the presence of TAC or SRL expressed less IL-21 and provided less B-cell help. TAC and SRL both inhibited Tfh-dependent alloantigen-activated B-cell proliferation and differentiation into plasma cells and transitional B cells. In conclusion, TAC and SRL inhibited the differentiation of naive T cells into functional Tfh-like cells, a finding that can be extrapolated to immunosuppressive regimens in transplant patients.,
Transplantation Proceedings
Department of Internal Medicine

Kraaijeveld, R., Li, Y. (Yi), Yan, L. (Lin), de Leur, K., Dieterich, M., Peeters, A.M.A. (Annemiek M.A.), … Baan, C. (2019). Inhibition of T Helper Cell Differentiation by Tacrolimus or Sirolimus Results in Reduced B-Cell Activation: Effects on T Follicular Helper Cells. Transplantation Proceedings. doi:10.1016/j.transproceed.2019.08.039