High-dose steroids administered to renal allograft recipients for treatment of acute graft rejection episodes may affect cell cycle progression of peripheral blood mononuclear (PBM) cells. DNA synthesis and cellular DNA and RNA contents of PBM cells were measured in 8 patients during clinically stable periods, and in another 10 patients both during acute rejection episodes and during 7 days of administration of high-dose steroids. Improved renal function documented successful reversal of the rejection episodes in the 10 patients. Compared with the stable patients, the rejecting patients had higher numbers of cells undergoing clonal expansion—namely, higher proportions of Gl-cells and of proliferating, or S, G2, and M (SG2M) cells. Steroid treatment had no acute effects on proportions of Gl or SG2M cells in vivo or on incorporation of 3Hthymidine by PBM cells in vitro. However, cells in the prereplicative compartment of the cell cycle (G0/1 cells) had significantly lower RNA content within 7 days of treatment with high doses of steroids. The results suggest that steroids do not acutely influence the posttranscriptional synthesis and the contents of nucleic acids of cells undergoing clonal expansion in vivo. The prereplicative phase of allogeneically stimulated PBM cells of renal allograft recipients may therefore be the cell cycle phase most sensitive to steroids in vivo.
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