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Abstract

Glucosamine (GlcN), like N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), is salvaged into the hexosamine pathway and is converted to UDP-GlcNAc. Golgi N-glycan branching enzymes produce N-glycans, using UDP-GlcNAc as a substrate, which attach to the T cell receptor (TCR) and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4). These findings suggest that GlcN exerts the immunoregulation through TCR signalling, which could be involved not only in cytokine production but also activated T cell apoptosis. In fact, a preliminary study showed that GlcN reduced the number of CD3+ T cells of NC/Nga mice with AD-like skin lesions. Therefore, whether apoptosis of T cells would be one of the potential molecular mechanisms of GlcN-induced immunosuppression was investigated. Cultured human primary along with Jurkat T cells and purified T cells from NC/Nga mice with or without Df-induced AD-like skin lesion were used for the study. Glucosamine treatment increased the number of T cells expressing β1,6GlcNAc-branched N-glycans, with reduced ZAP-70 phosphorylation and enhanced CTLA-4 expression. Glucosamine treatment reduced the number of activated T cells from both the human primary and Jurkat cells and the dermatitis-induced mice. The expression of FasL and activated caspases, particularly caspase-3, was increased, whereas the phosphorylation of PI3K, Akt and NF-κB was decreased by GlcN treatment. Therefore, in addition to down-regulating TCR signalling and promoting CTLA-4 expression, GlcN may also suppress T cell function by enhancing apoptosis of activated T cells, through both extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic signalling pathways, which were regulated by the inhibition of PI3K/Akt and NF-κB phosphorylation.