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J Immunol. 2001 Aug 1;167(3):1423-30.

IL-12 induction by a TH1-inducing adjuvant in vivo: dendritic cell subsets and regulation by IL-10.

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  • 1Laboratory of Plasma Derivatives, Division of Hematology, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


IL-12 induction is critical for immune responses against many viruses and intracellular bacterial pathogens. Recent studies suggest that IL-12-secreting dendritic cells (DC) are potent Th1-inducing APC. However, controversy exists concerning the function of DC subsets. Murine studies have suggested that CD8(+) DC preferentially induce Th1 responses, whereas CD8(-) DC induce Th2 development; in this model, different DC subsets prime different responses. Alternatively, the propensity of DC subsets to prime a Th1 response could depend upon the type of initial stimulus. We used a prototypic Th1-inducing adjuvant, heat-killed Brucella abortus (HKBA) to assess stimulation of DC subsets, relationship between Ag burden and IL-12 production, and down-regulation of DC subset IL-12 production by IL-10. In this study, we show that DC were sole producers of IL-12, although most HKBA uptake was by splenic macrophages and granulocytes. More CD8(-) than CD8(+) DC produced IL-12 after HKBA challenge, whereas only CD8(+) DC produced IL-12 after injection of another Th1-promoting microbial substance, soluble Toxoplasma gondii Ags. Studies in IL-10-deficient mice revealed that IL-10 down-regulates frequency and duration of IL-12 production by both DC subsets. In the absence of IL-10, IL-12 expression is enabled in CD11c(low) cells, but not in macrophages or granulocytes. These findings support the concept of DC as the major IL-12 producers in spleens, but challenge the notion that CD8(+) and CD8(-) DC are destined to selectively induce Th1 or Th2 responses, respectively. Thus, the nature of the stimulating substance is important in determining which DC subsets are activated to produce IL-12.

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