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Blood. 1996 Jun 1;87(11):4731-6.

Interferon-alpha stimulates production of interleukin-10 in activated CD4+ T cells and monocytes.

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  • 1Division of Hematology, Third Department of Medicine, The Johannes Gutenberg University School of Medicine, Mainz, Germany.


In the present study, we investigated the effect of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) on the expression of interleukin-10 (IL-10) mRNA and protein synthesis in human monocytes and CD4+ T cells. In mononuclear cells, IFN-alpha induced expression of IL-10 mRNA and further enhanced lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated IL-10 expression. In purified monocytes, a strong expression of IL-10 mRNA induced by LPS was not further enhanced by IFN-alpha. In highly purified CD4+ T cells, IFN-alpha upregulated IL-10 mRNA upon activation with phytohemagglutinin and phorbol myristate acetate. In purified monocytes, an effect of IFN-alpha on IL-10 protein synthesis was dependent on costimulation with LPS. Maximal stimulation of IL-10 protein by IFN-alpha was seen after prolonged incubation periods of 48 to 96 hours, whereas IFN-gamma reduced IL-10 production in the early incubation period. Similar effects of IFN-alpha were observed in CD4+ T cells activated with CD3 and CD28 monoclonal antibodies. Addition of IFN-alpha caused an increase of IL-10 in culture supernatants of activated T-helper cells of more than 100% after 96 hours of incubation. In contrast, other cytokines, including IFN-gamma and IL-4, had no influence on IL-10 secretion stimulated by CD3 and CD28 in CD4+ T cells. In serum samples of IFN-alpha-treated individuals, we failed to detect an influence of cytokine treatment on IL-10 serum levels, confirming the requirement of additional activating signals for IFN-alpha-mediated effects on IL-10 synthesis. In conclusion, IFN-alpha enhances the late induction of IL-10, which physiologically occurs upon stimulation of monocytes and T cells. Biologically, this effect might enhance the negative-feedback mechanism ascribed to IL-10, which limits inflammatory reactions.

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