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Eur J Immunol. 1999 Feb;29(2):643-9.

Combined effects of IL-12 and IL-18 on the clinical course and local cytokine production in murine pulmonary infection with Cryptococcus neoformans.

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The First Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan.


We reported recently that interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-18 synergistically increased the fungicidal activity of mouse peritoneal exudate cells against Cryptococcus neoformans by inducing the production of interferon (IFN)-gamma by natural killer (NK) cells. To confirm these findings in vivo, we examined the effect of combined treatment using these two cytokines on the course of experimentally induced pulmonary and disseminated cryptococcosis in mice. IL-12 and IL-18 were used at subtherapeutic doses (0.005 and 2 microg/mouse/day, respectively). A single administration of either cytokine was not effective in protecting mice against the infection, while combined treatment significantly prolonged survival time of infected mice and reduced the lung and brain loads of organisms. These protective effects were associated with elevated IFN-gamma and reduced IL-4 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Finally, depletion of NK and gammadelta T cells, but not of CD4+ T cells, by administration of specific antibodies, significantly reduced the production of IFN-gamma in lungs by IL-12/IL-18 treatment during the 7 days of infection. Our results demonstrated that IL-12 and IL-18 protected mice against cryptococcal infection in a synergistic manner by enhancing the local production of IFN-gamma by NK and gammadelta T cells in the early phase of infection and by suppressing the production of IL-4 in lungs.

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