Brain, behavior, and immunity

Dopamine favors expansion of glucocorticoid-resistant IL-17-producing T cells in multiple sclerosis.

PMID 24882215


Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter produced mainly in the central nervous system (CNS) that has immunomodulatory actions on T cells. As the multiple sclerosis (MS) has long been regarded as an autoimmune disease of CNS mediated by T cells, the objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of DA on in vitro functional status of T cells from relapsing-remitting (RR)-MS patients. Peripheral T-cells from RR-MS patients were activated by mitogens and cell proliferation and cytokine production were assayed by [(3)H]-thymidine uptake and ELISA, respectively. Our results demonstrated that DA enhanced in vitro T cell proliferation and Th17-related cytokines in MS-derived cell cultures. In addition, this catecholamine reduced Treg-related cytokines (IL-10 and TGF-β) release by activated CD4(+) T cells. These DA-induced effects on T cells were mainly dependent on IL-6 production by both polyclonally-activated CD4(+) T cells and LPS-stimulated monocytes. Furthermore, the production of IL-17 and IL-6 by MS-derived T cells was directly related with neurological disability (EDSS score), and the release of these cytokines was less sensitive to glucocorticoid inhibition in MS patients than in control group, mainly after DA addition. In conclusion, our data suggest that DA amplifies glucocorticoid-resistant Th17 phenotype in MS patients, and this phenomenon could be, at least in part, due to its ability to induce IL-6 production by monocytes and CD4(+) T cells.