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Gut. 1997 April; 40(4): 475–480.
PMCID: PMC1027121

In vitro effects of oxpentifylline on inflammatory cytokine release in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.


BACKGROUND: Inflammatory cytokines, including tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin (IL)-1 beta, have been implicated as primary mediators of intestinal inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease. AIM: To investigate the in vitro effects of oxpentifylline (pentoxifylline; PTX; a phosphodiesterase inhibitor) on inflammatory cytokine production (1) by peripheral mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and (2) by inflamed intestinal mucosa cultures from patients with Crohn's disease and patients with ulcerative colitis. METHODS: PBMCs and mucosal biopsy specimens were cultured for 24 hours in the absence or presence of PTX (up to 100 micrograms/ml), and the secretion of TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-8 determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). RESULTS: PTX inhibited the release of TNF-alpha by PBMCs from patients with inflammatory bowel disease and the secretion of TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta by organ cultures of inflamed mucosa from the same patients. Secretion of TNF-alpha by PBMCs was inhibited by about 50% at a PTX concentration of 25 micrograms/ml (IC50). PTX was equally potent in cultures from controls, patients with Crohn's disease, and those with ulcerative colitis. The concentrations of IL-6 and IL-8 were not significantly modified in PBMCs, but IL-6 increased slightly in organ culture supernatants. CONCLUSIONS: PTX or more potent related compounds may represent a new family of cytokine inhibitors, potentially interesting for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

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