Emetine - a general inhibitor of protein synthesis - was investigated for its ability to depress specific immune response in animal models. A single dose (33 mg/kg) of emetine administered subcutaneously to mice markedly decreased thymus weight and thymic cell numbers. DNA, RNA and protein synthesis of thymic cells were reduced by 90, 50 and 65%, respectively. RNA synthesis was the first process to recover followed by the reconstitution of DNA and protein synthesizing capacity. Histological evidence revealed an effect on the cortical region of thymus upon emetine administration. Results suggest that emetine exerts an immunosuppressive effect on T-cell maturation in the thymus. These findings may enhance a therapeutic interest in the drug.
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