Immunosuppression explained

    • Anonymous
      March 19, 2008 at 6:00 pm

      I posted this in another section, General Questions/MGUS, in reply to blskat1. I’m repeating it here because I thought this might be of general interest.

      I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before but I pulled out my textbook, [I]Immunology[/I] by Klaus Elgert. There are several pages on the topic of immunosuppression which I never studied before, probably more than either one of us care to know. I will try to summarize the important sections.

      There are three methods:

      [B]1. Physical methods[/B], i.e. removing the immune systems cells and tissues, surgery etc.
      [B]2. Chemical methods[/B] (more about this below)
      [B]3. Biological methods[/B] such as using antigen or antibodies. The exact mechanism of action for biological immunosuppressive agents is not thoroughly known. IVIG and Rituxan belong here (my comment)

      [B]Chemical immunosuppressants[/B] can be placed in four main groups: corticosteroids, alkylating agents, anti-metabolites, and antibiotics.

      [B]Steroids:[/B] in humans the immunosuppressive effects of steroids are poorly defined. [I]Cortisone[/I] for example mediates lysis of susceptible lymphocytes and anti-inflammatory actions. They cause the cell nucleus to disintegrate and cells to lose their cytoplasm. Unlike other immunosuppressants, they are effective whether or not cells are in their replicative cycle.

      [B]Alkylating agents[/B]: these interfere with some basic metabolic processes needed for cell division, differentiation or protein synthesis. The main effect is on DNA synthesis by adding alkyl chemical groups to nucleic acids and proteins. They destroy lymphocytes and reduce proliferation. Well-known drugs are [I]Cyclophosphamide [/I](Cytoxin) and [I]Chlorambucil[/I].

      [B]Anti-metabolic agents:[/B] they also interfere with basic metabolic processes[B],[/B] primarily inhibiting cell division. They function as antagonist of folic acid as well as purines or pyrimidines. All these are essential for DNA synthesis. They resemble natural molecules but lead to faulty cell metabolism. Of interest for us, of course, would be the inhibiting effect on T and B-cell proliferation.[I] Imuran[/I] would be one of these drugs.

      [B]Antibiotic agents[/B]: some of them have immunosuppressive activity. One example is [I]Cyclosporin A[/I]. It differs from other immunosuppressive drugs because it is not lymphocytic and has selectivity. Its principal target is the Th(helper T) cell. It suppresses T-cell growth and differentiation without directly affecting antibody production or impair marrow function.

    • Anonymous
      March 20, 2008 at 4:03 am

      I think my brain just exploded. This is very timely information Norb – I’m heading back to the doctor tomorrow to talk about my treatment. Thank you so much for taking the time to summarize it for us – I know it’s not as easy as it sounds! 🙂

    • Anonymous
      March 20, 2008 at 5:34 am

      That’s extremely helpful. I think that it was DocDavid who wrote in his article for Practical Neurology that in these forums there are ‘expert patients’.
      That includes picking the right book from the shelf and even knowing which book!

    • March 20, 2008 at 2:21 pm


      Thanks for taking the time to post this information on this forum too.

      I have printed it out for a quick reference guide.


    • Anonymous
      March 20, 2008 at 7:07 pm

      Thank you so much for the info. See the MD on Mon as i’m having more pins and needles and right arm does not want to work correctly. Going to ask him to explain in regards to my tretment plan.

    • Anonymous
      March 24, 2008 at 10:34 pm

      Norb, I read nearly everything you write. I do not understand much of it, but this I will print out for future reference. I have a question. In one section you mention frolic acid. I take this daily. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? As I said, I don’t comprehend all of the information.
      Thanks for your answer. Mary Ann

    • Anonymous
      March 25, 2008 at 5:08 pm

      Mary Ann, folic acid is a good thing. Folic acid is a B vitamin. It helps the body make healthy new cells. Everyone needs folic acid. Foods with folic acid in them include leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts. Enriched breads, cereals and other grain products also contain folic acid.

      One kind of chemotherapy is using [U]fake[/U] folic acid. Our cells cannot tell the difference and use it for making new cells. These cells are defective and die or never get created. This is one way to keep cancer from spreading. I don’t think this is a method used for CIDP but I’m not sure.

      I’m sorry some of my posts are difficult to understand. I don’t always know how to say things easier. In addition, lots of the stuff I read in the literature is over my head, too. Immunology especially is very complicated.

      Take care

    • Anonymous
      March 25, 2008 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks for the answer. That is why I am taking the Frolic acid, but just wanted to clarify what I read in your report. Thanks again.
      Mary Ann