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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2005 Nov;289(5):G960-8. Epub 2005 Jul 28.

IL-28A and IL-29 mediate antiproliferative and antiviral signals in intestinal epithelial cells and murine CMV infection increases colonic IL-28A expression.

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  • 1Department of Medicine II, University-Hospital Munich-Grosshadern, University of Munich, D-81377 Munich, Germany.


Human cytomegalovirus virus (CMV) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised individuals. Recently, a novel group of cytokines [interleukin (IL)-28A/B and IL-29, also termed interferon (IFN)-lambdas] has been described. Here, we demonstrate that intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) lines as well as murine and human colonic tissue express the IFN-lambda receptor subunits IL-28R and IL-10R2. IL-28A and IL-29 binding to their receptor complex activates ERK-1/2 and stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase MAPKs and Akt, resulting in increased IL-8 protein expression. IFN-lambdas also induce phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 and significantly increase mRNA expression of suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 and the antiviral proteins myxovirus resistance A and 2',5'-oligoadenylate synthetase. These signals result in an up to 83% reduction of cells positive for human CMV immediate-early protein after human CMV infection. In mice, IL-28A mRNA expression is upregulated after infection with murine CMV in vivo. Both IL-28A and IL-29 significantly decrease cell proliferation but have no effect on Fas-induced apoptosis. In conclusion, IECs express functional receptors for IFN-lambdas, which mediate antiviral and antiproliferative signals in IECs, suggesting a potential for therapeutic use in certain viral infections and as (antiproliferative) anticancer therapy.

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