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Naltrexone Inhibits IL-6 and TNFα Production in Human Immune Cell Subsets following Stimulation with Ligands for Intracellular Toll-Like Receptors

Naltrexone Inhibits IL-6 and TNFα Production in Human Immune Cell Subsets following Stimulation with Ligands for Intracellular Toll-Like Receptors
Publication Type
Journal Article
Research Type
Lab (in-vitro)
Reported as
July 11, 2017
Cant R, Dalgleish AG, Allen RL
St George’s University of London

The opioid antagonist naltrexone hydrochloride has been suggested to be a potential therapy at low dosage for multiple inflammatory conditions and cancers. Little is known about the immune-modulating effects of naltrexone, but an effect on the activity of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) has been reported. We analyzed the effects of naltrexone hydrochloride on IL-6 secretion by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in vitro following stimulation with ligands for TLR4 and for the intracellular receptors TLR7, TLR8, and TLR9. Naltrexone did not affect cell viability or induce apoptosis of PBMC. Intracellular staining demonstrated that naltrexone inhibited production of IL-6 and TNFα by monocyte and plasmacytoid dendritic cell subsets within the PBMC population following treatment with ligands for TLR7/8 and TLR9, respectively. No effect of cytokine production by PBMC following stimulation of TLR4 was observed. Additionally, naltrexone inhibited IL-6 production in isolated monocytes and B cells after TLR7/8 and TLR9 stimulation, respectively, but no effect on IL-6 production in isolated monocytes after TLR4 stimulation was observed. These findings indicate that naltrexone has the potential to modulate the secretion of inflammatory cytokines in response to intracellular TLR activity, supporting the hypothesis that it may have potential for use as an immunomodulator.

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