Immunosuppressive leflunomide metabolite (A77 1726) blocks TNF-dependent nuclear factor-kappa B activation and gene expression.J Immunol. 1999 Feb 15; 162(4):2095-102.JI
Leflunomide is a novel immunosuppressive and antiinflammatory agent currently being tested for treatment of autoimmune diseases and transplant rejection. NF-kappa B is a transcription factor activated in response to a wide variety of inflammatory stimuli, including TNF, but whether leflunomide blocks NF-kappa B activation is not known. In the present report we demonstrate that treatment of a human T cell line (Jurkat) with leflunomide blocks TNF-mediated NF-kappa B activation in a dose- and time-dependent manner, with maximum inhibition at 5-10 microM. Inhibition was not restricted to TNF-induced activation, because leflunomide also inhibited NF-kappa B activation induced by other inflammatory agents, including phorbol ester, LPS, H2O2, okadaic acid, and ceramide. Leflunomide blocked the degradation of I kappa B alpha and subsequent nuclear translocation of the p65 subunit, steps essential for NF-kappa B activation. This correlated with inhibition of dual specificity-mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase as well as an Src protein tyrosine kinase, p56lck, by leflunomide. Reducing agents did not reverse the effect of leflunomide. Leflunomide also suppressed the TNF-activated NF-kappa B-dependent reporter gene expression. Our results thus indicate that leflunomide is a potent inhibitor of NF-kappa B activation induced by a wide variety of inflammatory stimuli, and this provides the molecular basis for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects.