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J Immunol. 2001 Mar 1;166(5):3075-82.

The production of IFN-gamma by IL-12/IL-18-activated macrophages requires STAT4 signaling and is inhibited by IL-4.

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Institute of Clinical Microbiology, Immunology, and Hygiene, University of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.


Macrophages release IFN-gamma on combined stimulation with IL-12 and IL-18, but the signaling requirements of this process and its regulation by other cytokines are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that STAT4 is indispensable for IL-12/IL-18-induced production of IFN-gamma by mouse peritoneal macrophages. Type 2 NO synthase (NOS2), which we previously found to be a prerequisite for IL-12-induced IFN-gamma production in NK cells, was not required for IFN-gamma production by these macrophages. IL-12 alone already induced the expression of IFN-gamma mRNA, but nuclear translocation of STAT4, the release of IFN-gamma protein, and the subsequent production of NO was strictly dependent on the simultaneous presence of IL-18. NF-kappa B, which mediates IL-18 effects in T cells, was only weakly activated by IL-12 and/or IL-18 in macrophages. Known inhibitors of macrophage functions (e.g., IL-4 and TGF-beta) also suppressed macrophage IFN-gamma production and the subsequent production of NOS2-derived NO. The inhibitory effect of IL-4 was paralleled by nuclear translocation of STAT6, which in EMSAs was able to bind to the same DNA oligonucleotide as STAT4. These results further define the production of IFN-gamma by macrophages and point to a diversity in the signals required for IFN-gamma production by various cell types.

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