IMP dehydrogenase is a key enzyme in the de novo pathway of purine biosynthesis and is responsible for catalyzing the first step in the formation of guanine ribonucleotides from inosine monophosphate. Mizoribine, an immunosuppressive agent in wide-spread clinical use in Japan, has been demonstrated to inhibit this enzyme. We have investigated the effects of mizoribine on human T cell activation. Stimulation of purified human peripheral blood T lymphocytes with phorbol ester and ionomycin leads to a five-fold increase in guanine ribonucleotide levels over 72 hours. The addition of mizoribine to these cultures at concentrations that are achieved in vivo leads to a dose-dependent inhibition of proliferation and concomitant 50% decrease in guanine ribonucleotide levels, an effect that is reversible with the addition of guanosine, which repletes the GTP pool. Similar effects are seen with direct stimulation via the CD3/T cell receptor complex. Inhibition of proliferation occurs at the G1/S interface of the cell cycle and is additive to that produced by cyclosporine. In order to determine whether inhibition of IMP dehydrogenase is a common mechanism of immunosuppression for drugs such as azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine that interfere with purine biosynthesis, we compared the effects of these agents on the metabolism of purified T lymphocytes. The results of these studies demonstrate that mizoribine and mycophenolic acid, a highly specific inhibitor of IMP dehydrogenase, inhibit proliferation directly by the depletion of guanine ribonucleotides; 6-mercaptopurine, on the other hand, has a mixed effect on adenine and guanine ribonucleotide pools, whereas azathioprine inhibits proliferation by a mechanism completely independent of its effects on the purine metabolic pathway. We conclude from these studies that inhibitors of IMP dehydrogenase have potential as specific immunosuppressive agents.
View details for Web of Science ID A1993LL56700026
View details for PubMedID 8103312