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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1999 Sep;25(4):391-402.

Chemokine responses and accumulation of inflammatory cells in the lungs of mice infected with highly virulent Cryptococcus neoformans: effects of interleukin-12.

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


We examined the mechanisms involved in the development of lung lesions after infection with Cryptococcus neoformans by comparing the histopathological findings and chemokine responses in the lungs of mice infected with C. neoformans and assessed the effect of interleukin (IL) 12 which protects mice from lethal infection. In mice infected intratracheally with a highly virulent strain of C. neoformans, the yeast cells multiplied quickly in the alveolar spaces but only a poor cellular inflammatory response was observed throughout the course of infection. Very little or no production of chemokines, including MCP-1, RANTES, MIP-1alpha, MIP-1beta and IP-10, was detected at the mRNA level using RT-PCR as well as at a protein level in MCP-1, RANTES and MIP-1alpha. In contrast, intraperitoneal administration of IL-12 induced the synthesis of these chemokines and a marked cellular inflammatory response involving histiocytes and lymphocytes in infected mice. Our findings were confirmed by flow cytometry of intraparenchymal leukocytes obtained from lung homogenates which showed IL-12-induced accumulation of inflammatory cells consisting mostly of macrophages and CD4+ alphabeta T cells. On the other hand, C-X-C chemokines including MIP-2 and KC, which attract neutrophils, were produced in infected and PBS-treated mice but treatment with IL-12 showed a marginal effect on their level, and neutrophil accumulation was similar in PBS- and IL-12-treated mice infected with C. neoforman. Our results demonstrate a close correlation between chemokine levels and development of lung lesions, and suggest that the induction of chemokine synthesis may be one of the mechanisms of IL-12-induced protection against cryptococcal infection.

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