Antimetabolite Drugs Exhibit Distinctive Immunomodulatory Mechanisms and Effects on the Intestinal Microbiota in Experimental Autoimmune Uveitis

Victor Llorenc, Yukiko Nakamura, Christina Metea, Lisa Karstens, Blanca Molins, Phoebe Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of antimetabolite drugs on T-cell responses and intestinal microbial composition in autoimmune uveitis. METHODS. Experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) was induced in C57BL/6J mice treated with 0.00625 mg/mL methotrexate (MTX) or 0.625 mg/mL mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) in drinking water for 4 weeks prior to immunization and 2 weeks thereafter. The effector T cell (Teff) and regulatory T cell (Treg) populations were identified using flow cytometry. The 16S rRNA gene sequencing was applied for gut microbiome characterization. DESeq2 analysis was used to discriminate relative abundances of taxa and PLS-DA to integrate cytometric and microbiome data between groups. RESULTS. Both MTX and MMF abrogated uveitis in EAU without clinical signs of toxicity as compared to water-fed controls. MTX reduced Teff and Treg expansion in peripheral tissues and eyes. MTX decreased alpha diversity, increased Akkermansia, and reduced Lachnoclostridium abundances. Conversely, MMF enhanced Tregs in the mesenteric lymph node and the eyes. In parallel, MMF increased the gut alpha diversity, including an increased abundance of Lachnospiraceae NK4A136 group and a decreased abundance of Lachnospiraceae UCG-001. A significant congruent correlation among intestinal microbial changes, T-cell responses, and clinical scores was observed for both antimetabolites. CONCLUSIONS. Although MTX and MMF both abrogated uveitis in EAU, they showed different effects on T-cell subsets and the intestinal bacterial composition. This work indicates unique immunomodulation by each drug and is the first to demonstrate potential microbiota-related mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2778717
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • antimetabolites
  • experimental autoimmune uveitis
  • intestinal microbiome
  • methotrexate
  • mycophenolate mofetil
  • uveitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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