Longitudinal exposure of human T lymphocytes to weak oxidative stress suppresses transmembrane and nuclear signal transduction

Eliezer Flescher, Jeffrey A. Ledbetter, Gary L. Schieven, Norma Vela-Roch, Donna Fossum, Howard Dang, Noriyoshi Ogawa, Norman Talal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Products of polyamine oxidase activity, at micromolar levels and during a period of 2 to 3 days, down-regulate IL-2 mRNA levels and activity in human lymphocytes. We studied whether this suppression was associated with signal transduction abnormalities. We found that polyamine oxidase activity suppresses both anti-CD3-induced IL-2 production and protein tyrosine phosphorylation. Polyamine oxidase activity also caused a reduction in intracellular calcium mobilization after mitogenic stimulation. The most distal step of CD3-mediated signal transduction is dependent upon transcription factors that regulate a set of genes, including IL-2. We found that polyamine oxidase-treated cells exhibited very low DNA binding activity of two such factors: NFAT and NF-κB. On the other hand, AP-1 DNA binding activity was enhanced in polyamine oxidase-treated cells, suggesting a possible role for AP-1 in the human lymphocyte stress response. In accordance with the oxidation dependence of this suppressive mechanism, N-acetylcysteine (NAC; an antioxidant) significantly reversed the polyamine oxidase effects on lymphokine production and signal transduction. These results suggest that NAC contributes, under oxidizing conditions, to the preservation of immune function. In summary, our data suggest that chronic low-level oxidative stress, via suppression of mitogen-induced transmembrane signaling (protein- tyrosine phosphorylation and calcium mobilization), causes a decrease in the DNA binding activity of transcription factors that regulate the IL-2 gene. This results in decreased IL-2 production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4880-4889
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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