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J Immunol. 2002 Mar 1;168(5):2383-92.

IL-10 is critical for host resistance and survival during gastrointestinal helminth infection.

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  • 1Immunology Disease Resistance Laboratory, Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.


Resistance to many intestinal nematodes is dependent on the induction of polarized type 2 cytokine responses, whereas type 1 responses can exacerbate these infections. The contributions of IL-4 and IL-13 to the development of resistance have been well described for a variety of intestinal parasites; however, the role of IL-10 has not been previously investigated. In this study we infected IL-10-, IL-10/IL-4-, IL-10/IL-12-, IL-4-, and IL-12-deficient mice with Trichuris muris to determine whether IL-10 contributes to the development of immunity. Interestingly, T. muris-infected IL-10-, IL-4-, and IL-10/IL-4-deficient mice failed to expel the parasite, and animals deficient in IL-10 displayed marked morbidity and mortality. In contrast, double IL-10/IL-12-deficient mice were completely resistant and mounted a highly polarized type 2 cytokine response, demonstrating that the increased susceptibility of IL-10-deficient mice was dependent on IL-12. Further study suggested that the susceptibility of IL-10- and IL-10/IL-4-deficient mice was probably attributable to a marked increase in type 1 cytokine production in those animals. The mortality observed in T. muris-infected IL-10- and IL-10/IL-4-deficient mice correlated with increased inflammation, loss of Paneth cells, and absence of mucus in the cecum. Interestingly, survival was enhanced in T. muris-infected IL-10/IL-4-deficient mice if a broad spectrum antibiotic was administered, suggesting that an outgrowth of opportunistic bacteria was contributing to the high degree of morbidity and mortality. Overall, these studies reveal a critical role for IL-10 in the polarization of Th2 responses, development of resistance during T. muris infection, and maintenance of barrier function in the colon.

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