Archives of dermatological research

Influence of monomethylfumarate on monocytic cytokine formation--explanation for adverse and therapeutic effects in psoriasis?

PMID 9444385


Although the effectiveness of systemic antipsoriatic treatment with fumaric acid esters has been proven, their mode of action is still not understood. Recent results indicate their potency in inducing cytokine production in stimulated T cells. Since monocytes and their cytokines are also considered to be of pathogenic importance in psoriasis, we investigated the effect of monomethylfumarate (MMF) on proinflammatory (TNF-alpha, IL-12) and antiinflammatory (IL-10, IL-1RA) cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and separated monocytes. In 24-h PBMC cultures from both psoriatic patients (n = 6-13) and healthy volunteers (n = 7-9), MMF at 100 microM induced secretion of TNF-alpha, IL-10, and IL-1RA. Kinetics of IL-10 protein and mRNA expression indicated de novo production. Moreover, MMF significantly augmented endotoxin-induced synthesis of TNF-alpha, IL-10 and IL-1RA. In contrast, no influence on IL-12 secretion was found. Similar effects of MMF in purified monocytes indicated these cells to be responsible for aberrant cytokine formation. Furthermore, enhanced expression of costimulatory molecules after MMF stimulation confirmed monocyte activation. Multiple restimulation with fumaric acid esters in vitro, however, and immunomonitoring in a patient during Fumaderm initial therapy suggested that initial monocyte activation is followed by subsequent deactivation associated with an antiinflammatory response. Our results may explain the well-known effects of therapy with fumaric acid esters. Thus, initial treatment is often accompanied by adverse effects which may be caused by MMF-induced TNF-alpha formation. The change in the IL-10/IL-12 balance as a result of elective induction of IL-10, however, may have antipsoriatic activity by diminishing type-1/proinflammatory cytokine over-expression and the antigen-presenting capacity of monocytes/macrophages, and by upregulation of IL-1RA.

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