The immunosuppressive activity of L-leucyl-L-leucine methyl ester: Selective ablation of cytotoxic lymphocytes and monocytes

Dwain L Thiele, P. E. Lipsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


L-leucyl-L-leucine methyl ester (Leu-Leu-OMe), a dipeptide condensation product of L-leucine methyl ester generated by human monocytes (MΦ) or polymorphonuclear leukocytes, eliminates all natural killer cell (NK) function from mixed lymphocyte populations. In the present studies, the specificity of the action of Leu-Leu-OMe was examined. It was found that a variety of tissue culture cells and tumor lines of nonlymphoid origin were completely resistant to any demonstrable Leu-Leu-OMe-mediated toxicity. Furthermore, the erythroleukemia line K562, the T cell line Molt-4, the B cell lines HS-Sultan and Daudi, and EBV-transformed B cell lines were unaffected by concentrations of this compound that completely eliminated NK cells. Similarly, the vast majority of OKT4+ lymphocytes manifested no significant toxicity after Leu-Leu-OMe exposure. Furthermore, they retained the capacity to proliferate normally in response to allogeneic cells as well as the ability to provide help for the generation of immunoglobulin-secreting cells (ISC). However, Leu-Leu-OMe caused partial depletion of OKT8+ cells from mixed populations of lymphocytes. After such exposure, the remaining OKT8+ cells were still capable of proliferating in mixed lymphocyte cultures, but the suppressive effect of these cells on ISC generation was abolished. Furthermore, both precursors and activated effectors of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) and activated NK-like activity generated in mixed lymphocyte cultures were eliminated by exposure to low concentrations of Leu-Leu-OMe. Indeed, both OKT4+ and OKT8+ CTL were eliminated by Leu-Leu-OMe. In addition, both peripheral blood MΦ and U937 cells, a human cell line with many MΦ-like characteristics, were sensitive to Leu-Leu-OMe-mediated toxicity, although only at two- to fivefold higher concentrations than those completely eliminating NK cells. These findings indicate that Leu-Leu-OMe has selective toxicity for NK cells, CTL, and MΦ without adverse effects on a variety of other lymphoid or non-lymphoid cell types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1038-1048
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'The immunosuppressive activity of L-leucyl-L-leucine methyl ester: Selective ablation of cytotoxic lymphocytes and monocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this