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J Immunol. 2011 Mar 15;186(6):3642-52. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1003292. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Highly activated cytotoxic CD8 T cells express protective IL-10 at the peak of coronavirus-induced encephalitis.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Program in Immunology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Acute viral encephalitis requires rapid pathogen elimination without significant bystander tissue damage. In this article, we show that IL-10, a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine, is produced transiently at the peak of infection by CD8 T cells in the brains of coronavirus-infected mice. IL-10(+)CD8 and IL-10(-)CD8 T cells interconvert during acute disease, possibly based on recent Ag exposure. Strikingly, IL-10(+)CD8 T cells were more highly activated and cytolytic than IL-10(-)CD8 T cells, expressing greater levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, as well as cytotoxic proteins. Even though these cells are highly proinflammatory, IL-10 expressed by these cells was functional. Furthermore, IL-10 produced by CD8 T cells diminished disease severity in mice with coronavirus-induced acute encephalitis, suggesting a self-regulatory mechanism that minimizes immunopathological changes.

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