Journal Article

Differential effects of β-lactams on human IFN-γ activity

Bernadette M. Brooks, C. Anthony Hart and John W. Coleman

in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Published on behalf of British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Volume 56, issue 6, pages 1122-1125
Published in print December 2005 | ISSN: 0305-7453
Published online October 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2091 | DOI:
Differential effects of β-lactams on human IFN-γ activity

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  • Medical Oncology
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Objectives: To investigate whether a range of β-lactam antibiotics conjugate to and hence reduce the activity of IFN-γ, as has been shown for penicillin G. A selection of penicillins, cephalosporins, a monobactam (aztreonam), a β-lactamase inhibitor (clavulanic acid), a carbapenem (meropenem) and the non-β-lactam penicillin derivative d-penicillamine were tested for their effect on IFN-γ activity.

Methods: Following exposure to a range of concentrations of these compounds, for varying lengths of time, IFN-γ activity was assayed by induction of CD54 on the surface of the lung epithelial cell line A549, utilizing an ELISA.

Results: Clavulanic acid, cefoxitin and cefaloridine were the most potent inhibitors of IFN-γ activity, followed by cefotaxime, ceftriaxone and phenoxymethylpenicillin. Ampicillin was less inhibitory than penicillin G, whilst meropenem and aztreonam had the least effect and d-penicillamine had no effect. The modulatory effect of these compounds was not due to a direct effect on CD54 induction. Unlike freshly prepared drugs, aged preparations of penicillin G and clavulanic acid had no significant effect on IFN-γ activity.

Conclusions: β-Lactams differ in their capacity to modulate human IFN-γ activity. This finding may have implications for the immunomodulatory effects of β-lactams and for the design both of β-lactams that do not affect the immune system and those which may be used therapeutically to target cytokine action.

Keywords: cytokines; immunomodulation; drugs; modulation; interactions

Journal Article.  2015 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Critical Care

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