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J Immunol. 2000 Sep 1;165(5):2877-85.

T cells from human allergen-induced late asthmatic responses express IL-12 receptor beta 2 subunit mRNA and respond to IL-12 in vitro.

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Upper Respiratory Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine at National Heart and Lung Institute, London, United Kingdom.


IL-12 suppresses proallergic Th2-type cytokine production and induces Th1-type cytokine production by peripheral blood T cells from subjects with allergic disease. The objective of the present study was to examine the relevance of these findings to target organ T cell responses in human asthma. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and PBMC were collected from atopic asthmatics 24 h after fiberoptic allergen challenge of a segmental bronchus. BAL T cells and PBMC were cultured with allergen in the presence of recombinant IL-12 or IFN-gamma, and cytokines were measured in culture supernatants after 6 days. IL-5 production by BAL T cells and PBMC was inhibited by IL-12 and, to a lesser extent, by IFN-gamma. IL-12 also induced IFN-gamma production by BAL T cells and PBMC. The effects of IL-12 nor IFN-gamma on IL-5 production could not be reversed by neutralizing anti-IFN-gamma or anti-IL-12 mAbs, respectively. Thus, the effect of neither IL-12 nor IFN-gamma appeared to be mediated through induction of the other cytokine. In situ hybridization revealed that approximately one-third of BAL T cells expressed mRNA transcripts encoding the IL-12R beta 2 subunit following allergen challenge. Thus, human T cells obtained from BAL during asthmatic late responses, like T cells in the peripheral circulation, remain susceptible to immunomodulation by IL-12. These findings raise the possibility that IL-12 may hold therapeutic potential in allergic diseases such as asthma.

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