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J Immunol. 1994 Sep 15;153(6):2533-43.

Parasite-induced IL-12 stimulates early IFN-gamma synthesis and resistance during acute infection with Toxoplasma gondii.

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  • 1Immunology and Cell Biology Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


In vitro and in vivo studies were performed to assess the involvement of IL-12 in resistance to acute and chronic infection with an avirulent strain of Toxoplasma gondii. Our previous findings implicated macrophages as a major source of parasite-induced IL-12. This finding was confirmed by showing that peritoneal macrophages exposed to either live parasites or soluble tachyzoite Ags produce IL-12 protein. In mice, increased expression of IL-12 (p40) mRNA in both spleen and peritoneal cells was detected as early as 2 days postinfection. Treatment with neutralizing mAbs against IL-12 increased the susceptibility of C57BL/6, BALB/c, and severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice to acute infection, which resulted in 100% mortality within the first 15 days after parasite inoculation. In contrast, neutralization of endogenously produced IL-12 had no effect when given during chronic infection. In agreement with the survival data, treatment with anti-IL-12 resulted in decreased IFN-gamma and enhanced Th2 (IL-4 and IL-10) cytokine synthesis by splenocytes when given during acute, but not chronic, toxoplasmosis. Sorting experiments on spleen cells from acutely infected mice indicated that both CD4+ lymphocytes and NK1.1+/CD3- cells contribute to the early IFN-gamma response. In contrast, CD4+ cells were found to be the major source of the cytokine during chronic disease. Together, these results suggest that the stimulation of macrophage-derived IL-12 plays a major role in both the induction of resistance and Th1 cell subset selection in acute T. gondii infection, but may not be required to maintain established immunity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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