In vivo effects of aspirin and cyclosporine on regulatory T cells and T-cell cytokine production in healthy dogs

T. M. Archer, J. V. Stokes, E. Kummari, C. Fellman, J. Thomason, J. Haraschak, R. Wills, L. Pinchuk, A. Mackin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cyclosporine and aspirin are routinely used in combination to treat immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) in dogs. Cyclosporine is a potent immunosuppressive agent that targets T cell production of the cytokines IL-2 and IFN-γ. Low-dose aspirin is often used to inhibit platelet function in dogs with IMHA, since these animals are prone to life-threatening thromboembolic disease. In rodents and humans, aspirin and cyclosporine have both been shown to variably affect T cell cytokine production, and also numbers of circulating regulatory T cells (Tregs). In dogs, it has not yet been determined if concurrent aspirin alters the effects of cyclosporine on T-cell cytokine expression, or if either drug influences Treg numbers. In a crossover study, seven healthy young adult dogs were given either oral high-dose cyclosporine (10 mg/kg Q12 h), oral low-dose aspirin (1 mg/kg Q24 h), oral high-dose aspirin (10 mg/kg Q12 h), or combined low-dose aspirin with cyclosporine, each for 8 days, with a washout of at least 2 weeks after each treatment. Activated T cell cytokine expression (IL-2 & IFN-γ) and percent CD4 + CD25 + FOXP3+ Tregs were evaluated using flow cytometry, both prior to and on the last day of treatment. The difference between pre- and post-treatment values for each group, as well as the difference between treatment groups, was evaluated. Cyclosporine significantly decreased IL-2 and IFN-γ expression when used alone or in combination with low-dose aspirin. High-dose aspirin, but not low-dose aspirin, also significantly decreased IL-2 expression, although the decrease was not as marked as that seen with cyclosporine alone or in combination with aspirin. Neither low-dose nor high-dose aspirin significantly affected IFN-γ expression. No drug or drug combination affected Treg numbers. Low-dose aspirin given with cyclosporine creates the same degree of T-cell cytokine suppression as does cyclosporine alone, suggesting that the two drugs can be used concurrently without significantly altering the immunosuppressive mechanism of action of cyclosporine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aspirin
  • Cyclosporine
  • Cytokine
  • Flow cytometry
  • Lymphocytes
  • Regulatory T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • General Veterinary


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