Therapeutic effect of anthracene-based anticancer agent ethonafide in an animal model of multiple sclerosis

Wen Hua Piao, Rudy Wong, Xue Feng Bai, Jianhua Huang, Denise I. Campagnolo, Robert T. Dorr, Timothy L. Vollmer, Fu Dong Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The side effects of cancer chemotherapeutic agents such as mitoxantrone (MIT) in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients justify the search for less toxic drugs. Ethonafide is an anthracene-based antineoplastic drug similar to MIT. With reference to MIT, we examined the effect of ethonafide on experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in C57BL/6 mice, an animal model of human MS. We demonstrated that ethonafide is effective in preventing development of EAE as well as in ameliorating the severity of EAE when disease is ongoing. In relatively higher dosages, the effects of ethonafide and MIT on EAE were identical, whereas in lower dosages, MIT seemed more effective. Therapeutic effects of ethonafide were associated with the initial reduction in cellular counts of CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, B220+, CD11b+, NK cells, and NKT cells, followed by recovery of these cells from the bone marrow. Interestingly, the recovered autoreactive T cells in ethonafide-treated animals have reduced capacity to expand and produce cytokines in response to myelin Ag stimulation. Furthermore, CD4+CD25 + regulatory T cells were relatively resistant to depletion and/or recovered faster than T effector cells. The ability of regulatory T cells to resist depletion and replenish quickly during cell ablation therapy may provide an opportunity to reprogram the immune system. Moreover, we provided evidences that ethonafide has less cardiac toxicity compared with MIT. The effectiveness and the low cardiotoxicity of ethonafide might make it a promising immunosuppressive agent for clinical use in treating MS patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7415-7423
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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