Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3β Facilitates Cytokine Production in 12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-Acetate/Ionomycin-Activated Human CD4+ T Lymphocytes

Cheng Chieh Tsai, Chin Kun Tsai, Po Chun Tseng, Chiou Feng Lin, Chia Ling Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cytokines are the major immune regulators secreted from activated CD4+ T lymphocytes that activate adaptive immunity to eradicate nonself cells, including pathogens, tumors, and allografts. The regulation of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3β, a serine/threonine kinase, controls cytokine production by regulating transcription factors. The artificial in vitro activation of CD4+ T lymphocytes by a combination of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate and ionomycin, the so-called T/I model, led to an inducible production of cytokines, such as interferon-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukin-2. As demonstrated by the approaches of pharmacological targeting and genetic knockdown of GSK-3β, T/I treatment effectively caused GSK-3β activation followed by GSK-3β-regulated cytokine production. In contrast, pharmacological inhibition of the proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 and calcineurin signaling pathways blocked cytokine production, probably by deactivating GSK-3β. The blockade of GSK-3β led to the inhibition of the nuclear translocation of T-bet, a vital transcription factor of T lymphocyte cytokines. In a mouse model, treatment with the GSK-3β inhibitor 6-bromoindirubin-3'-oxime significantly inhibited T/I-induced mortality and serum cytokine levels. In summary, targeting GSK-3β effectively inhibits CD4+ T lymphocyte activation and cytokine production.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 8 2020


  • 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate/ionomycin
  • CD4+ T lymphocyte
  • cytokine
  • Glycogen synthase kinase-3


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