The effect of antithyroid drugs on B and T cell activity in vitro

R. Wilson*, J. H. McKillop, M. Chopra, J. A. Thomson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the abilities of methimazole, propylthiouracil (PTU) and propranolol to exert an immunosuppressive effect in vitro. Incubation of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) with propranolol showed the drug to have no effect on either B‐ or T‐cell activity. Methimazole or PTU at concentrations of ≥ 10−5M resulted in significantly lower amounts of IgG and IgM being released into the culture medium. Both drugs were also found to have a direct effect on T‐cell function as they caused the percentage of total and suppressor cells to increase towards normal levels. The three drugs were all found to have some free radical scavenging ability. These ranked PTU > methimazole > propranolol. These in‐vitro findings would suggest that both methimazole and PTU have some direct effect on the immune system. It would seem more likely however that these effects are mediated via interleukin 2 rather than by their ability to act as free radical scavengers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-397
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1988


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