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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1999 Nov;21(5):586-96.

Interleukin-10 gene transfer to the airway regulates allergic mucosal sensitization in mice.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Immunology and Infection Programme, Center for Gene Therapeutics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of airway gene transfer of interleukin (IL)-10, a cytokine with potent anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory activities, on allergic mucosal sensitization. We used a recently described murine model that involves repeated exposures to aerosolized ovalbumin (OVA), daily for 10 d, in the context of granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) expression in the airway environment achieved by intranasal delivery of a replication-deficient adenovirus carrying the GM-CSF transgene. The resulting inflammatory response was characterized by a T-helper 2 cytokine profile and marked airway eosinophilia. After complete resolution of the inflammatory response (Day 28), a single exposure to OVA reconstituted airway eosinophilia and induced airway hyperresponsiveness. We show that concurrent expression of IL-10 inhibited GM-CSF-driven OVA-specific inflammation in a dose-dependent manner. Specifically, IL-10 decreased the number of mononuclear cells, neutrophils, and eosinophils in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Histologic evaluation of the tissue corroborated the findings in the BALF. Concurrent expression of IL-10 at the time of mucosal sensitization abrogated both the cellular and physiologic recall responses in vivo. Studies in interferon (IFN)-gamma knockout mice demonstrated that prevention of airway eosinophilia by IL-10 was IFN-gamma-independent and that expression of IL-10 was associated with decreased levels of IL-4, IL-5, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in the BALF. Flow cytometric analysis of dispersed lung cells showed that expression of IL-10 in the airway reduced the absolute number of Class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC)(+)/CD11c(+) (dendritic cells) and Class II MHC(+)/Mac-1(bright) (macrophages) cells expressing the costimulatory molecules B7.1 and B7.2 by 30%. However, IL-10 coexpression did not prevent expansion of CD4 and CD8 T cells or expression of the early activation marker CD69 on T cells. Thus, airway gene transfer of IL-10 altered the immune response to OVA in a way that resulted in inhibition of airway inflammation. These findings suggest that development of an immunoregulatory strategy based on IL-10, alone or in combination with GM-CSF, warrants further consideration.

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