Synergistic mechanisms by which sirolimus and cyclosporin inhibit rat heart and kidney allograft rejection

S. M. Stepkowski, L. Tian, K. L. Napoli, R. Ghobrial, M. E. Wang, T. C. Chou, B. D. Kahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The studies presented herein examined the mechanism(s) whereby sirolimus (SRL) and cyclosporin (CsA) act synergistically to block allograft rejection. Combination index (CI = 1 reflects additive, CI > 1 antagonistic, and CI < 1 synergistic, effects) analysis documented potent synergism between SRL and CsA to block allograft rejection. Combinations of the two drugs produced synergistic prolongation of heart (CI = 0.001-0.2) or kidney (CI = 0.03-0.5) allograft survival at SRL/CsA ratios ranging from 1:12.5 to 1:200. Pharmacokinetic analysis of the individual drugs showed that CsA does not affect the blood levels of SRL, and SRL mildly increases the levels of CsA in SRL/CsA-treated rats. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis was used to document that both subtherapeutic (1.0 mg/kg) and therapeutic (2.0 or 4.0 mg/kg) CsA doses inhibited the expression of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) (P < 0.03) and IL-2 (P < 0.003) mRNA produced by T helper (Th) 1 cells, as well as IL-10 (P < 0.001), but not IL-4 (NS) mRNA produced by Th2 cells. Contrariwise, all tested SRL doses (0.02, 0.04 or 0.08 mg/kg) did not affect cytokine mRNA expression. However, heart allografts from rat recipients treated with synergistic SRL/CsA doses displayed reduced levels of IFN-γ (P < 0.01), IL-2 (P < 0.001) and IL-10 (P < 0.001) mRNA. Thus, because subtherapeutic doses of CsA reduce Th1/Th2 activity, thereby facilitating the inhibition of signal transduction by low does of SRL, the two agents act synergistically to inhibit allograft rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • Cyclosporin
  • Immunosuppression
  • Rapamycin
  • Sirolimus
  • Synergism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Synergistic mechanisms by which sirolimus and cyclosporin inhibit rat heart and kidney allograft rejection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this