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.
- Immune response
- Immunology and Microbiology Section