Regulation of Human Cellular Immune Responses by Glucocorticosteroids

  • George C. Tsokos
  • James E. Balow


That glucocorticosteroids (GCS) are involved in the regulation of the immune response was implied by Dr. Addison as early as the 1850’s, in his observations on disease states which today carry his name. It was not until the 1930’s when it was demonstrated that GCS exhibit powerful thymolytic and lympholytic activities in vivo and later on (1940’s) in vitro. During the decade of 1940 Hench and his colleagues reported spectacular therapeutic effects of cortisone in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (1). During the next decade GCS were used extensively in the treatment of various immune diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus. During the 1960’s several investigators started intensive studies aimed at the dissection of the metabolic effects of GCS on several cells (2–4). The decade of 1970’s saw elegant studies which addressed the question of the immunoregulation associated with GCS both in vitro and in vivo (5–8). GCS have been found to modulate every phase of human and animal immune responses. Several described effects of GCS on different phases of the immune response cannot be easily integrated to define the precise mechanism(s) of action of these agents. Studies in animals have helped significantly the understanding of the mode of action of GCS. The ultimate understanding of the modulation of the human immune response has been impeded by the different concentration ranges which obtain optimal effects in vivo and in vitro. In addition the interspecies differences in tissue sensitivity to GCS makes extrapolation of results from animal studies to humans difficult (8,9). The present chapter will update the current knowledge of the effects of GCS on the cellular immune response, i.e. effects on peripheral mononuclear cells, cytotoxic and proliferative responses, suppressor cell function, lymphokine production and B lymphocyte responses.


Migration Inhibitory Factor Suppressor Cell Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia Common Variable Immunodeficiency Immunoglobulin Production 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • George C. Tsokos
    • 1
  • James E. Balow
    • 1
  1. 1.Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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