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Immunol Res. 1999;20(3):207-17.

Interleukin 12 and innate molecules for enhanced mucosal immunity.

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The Immunobiology Vaccine Center, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35294-2170, USA.


Recent strategies for understanding the mechanisms underlying mucosal immune responses and subsequent development of mucosal vaccines for induction of targeted immunity now include cytokines and molecules of innate immunity. These studies have shown that cytokines influencing the development of T helper (Th) cells differentially affect the outcome of mucosal vs. systemic immune responses to mucosal vaccines. Serum antigen-specific antibody (Ab) responses were enhanced when either IL-6 or IL-12 was mucosally administered with a protein antigen, while only IL-12 induced antigen-specific mucosal IgA Ab responses. Mucosal IL-6 and IL-12 also affected the type of Th cell responses induced by CD4+ T cells from mice that received IL-12 secreted larger amounts of IFN-gamma and IL-6 when compared with mice nasally treated with IL-6. Discrepancies in the ability to enhance mucosal or systemic immune responses were also observed when human neutrophil peptide (HNP) defensins or lymphotactin were nasally coadministered with protein antigens. Only lymphotactin promoted mucosal secretory IgA (S-IgA) Ab responses while both lymphotactin and defensins enhanced systemic immunity to mucosally co-administered protein antigens. Mixed antigen-specific Th1 -and Th2-type CD4+ T cell responses were induced in the systemic compartment by both lymphotactin and the mixture of HNP-1, HNP-2, and HNP-3 defensins. However, HNPs failed to significantly enhance cytokine secretion by mucosally derived, antigen-specific CD4+ T cells relative to those isolated from the systemic compartment. In summary, these studies clearly show that IL-12 and lymphotactin are able to trigger S-IgA Ab responses and provide new avenues for the design of safe and targeted mucosal vaccines.

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