5-Fluorouracil targets thymidylate synthase in the selective suppression of TH17 cell differentiation

Juan Wang, Liang Peng, Ruihua Zhang, Zihan Zheng, Chun Chen, Ka Lung Cheung, Miao Cui, Guanglin Bian, Feihong Xu, David Chiang, Yuan Hu, Ye Chen, Geming Lu, Jianjun Yang, Hui Zhang, Jianfei Yang, Hongfa Zhu, Shu Hsia Chen, Kebin Liu, Ming Ming ZhouAndrew G. Sikora, Liwu Li, Bo Jiang, Huabao Xiong

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Scopus citations


    While it is well established that treatment of cancer patients with 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) can result in immune suppression, the exact function of 5-FU in the modulation of immune cells has not been fully established. We found that low dose 5-FU selectively suppresses TH17 and TH1 cell differentiation without apparent effect on Treg, TH2, and significantly suppresses thymidylate synthase (TS) expression in TH17 and TH1 cells but has a lesser effect in tumor cells and macrophages. Interestingly, the basal expression of TS varies significantly between T helper phenotypes and knockdown of TS significantly impairs TH17 and TH1 cell differentiation without affecting the differentiation of either Treg or TH2 cells. Finally, low dose 5-FU is effective in ameliorating colitis development by suppressing TH17 and TH1 cell development in a T cell transfer colitis model. Taken together, the results highlight the importance of the anti-inflammatory functions of low dose 5-FU by selectively suppressing TH17 and TH1 immune responses.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)19312-19326
    Number of pages15
    Issue number15
    StatePublished - Apr 12 2016


    • 5-FU
    • Immune response
    • Immunity
    • Immunology and Microbiology Section
    • T17
    • TS

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oncology


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