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J Neuroimmunol. 1999 Dec;100(1-2):140-8.

IL-10 as a mediator in the HPA axis and brain.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0431, USA.


Certain functional interactions between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are mediated by cytokines. The pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) were among the first to be recognized in this regard. A modulator of these cytokines, IL-10, has been shown to have a wide range of activities in the immune system; in this review, we describe its production and actions in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. IL-10 is produced in pituitary, hypothalamic, and neural tissues in addition to lymphocytes. IL-10 enhances corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and corticotropin (ACTH) production in hypothalamic and pituitary tissues, respectively. Further downstream in the HPA axis endogenous IL-10 has the potential to contribute to regulation of glucocorticosteroid production both tonically and following stressors. Our studies and those of others reviewed here indicate that IL-10 may be an important endogenous regulator in HPA axis activity and in CNS pathologies such as multiple sclerosis. Thus, in addition to its more widely recognized role in immunity, IL-10's neuroendocrine activities described here point to its role as an important regulator in communication between the immune and neuroendocrine systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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