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J Immunol. 2000 Dec 1;165(11):6553-8.

An IFN-gamma-independent proinflammatory role of IL-18 in murine streptococcal cell wall arthritis.

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Rheumatology Research Laboratory and Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Center St. Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


IL-18 is a member of the IL-1 family of proteins that exerts proinflammatory effects. It was formally known as IFN-gamma-inducing factor and is a pivotal cytokine for the development of Th1 responses. Apart from Th1 immune-stimulatory activity, IL-18 induces the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha and IL-1 in vitro. The goal was to investigate the role of endogenous IL-18 in murine streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis. Furthermore, we investigated whether IL-18 neutralization had an impact on local TNF and IL-1 production. C57BL/6, BALB/c, and IFN-gamma-deficient mice were injected with 2 mg of rabbit anti-murine IL-18 Abs shortly before induction of arthritis by intra-articular injection of 25 microg of SCW fragments into the right knee joint. Suppression of joint swelling was noted on days 1 and 2 of SCW arthritis after blockade of endogenous IL-18. Analysis of local cytokine concentrations showed that IL-18, TNF-alpha, and IL-1ss levels were decreased. Severe inhibition of chondrocyte proteoglycan synthesis was seen in the vehicle-treated control animals, whereas a reversal of the inhibition of chondrocyte proteoglycan synthesis was found in the anti-IL-18-exposed animals. Blockade of endogenous IL-18 in IFN-gamma-deficient mice showed results similar to those found in wild-type animals, identifying a role for IL-18 that is IFN-gamma independent. The present study indicates that IL-18 is a proinflammatory cytokine during the onset of murine SCW arthritis, and this inflammatory role of IL-18 is IFN-gamma independent.

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