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Immune Suppression

Zinc in pharmacological doses suppresses allogeneic reaction without affecting the antigenic response


Zinc is an essential trace element for the immune system. Previously it was shown that zinc inhibits alloreactivity. In our present in vitro experiments, it is shown that zinc maintains the antigenic potency of the host while blocking the allogeneic response. These results were observed in experiments using tetanus toxoid as a well-established recall antigen and the mixed lymphocyte culture as an in vitro model for allogeneic reaction. To prove the in vivo relevance, an ex vivo experimental setup was established. This involved participants taking zinc orally for 1 week. Here it is shown that in vivo zinc application induced the same effect of blocking the mixed lymphocyte culture without influencing tetanus toxoid stimulation. So far, no clinical application studies have been performed, but the observed selective suppression of allogeneic reaction by zinc is the first step towards a new generation of immunosuppressants.

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We thank Romney Haylett for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to L Rink.

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Faber, C., Gabriel, P., Ibs, KH. et al. Zinc in pharmacological doses suppresses allogeneic reaction without affecting the antigenic response. Bone Marrow Transplant 33, 1241–1246 (2004).

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  • zinc
  • alloreactivity

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