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J Infect Dis. 2003 Jun 15;187 Suppl 2:S370-84.

Interleukin-18 and host defense against infection.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


Interferon (IFN)-gamma-inducing factor was previously termed interleukin (IL)-18. Although IL-12 is also an IFN-gamma-inducing factor, the activity of IL-18 (but not IL-12) in models of sepsis and death is dependent on the intracellular cysteine protease IL-1beta converting enzyme (caspase-1). Caspase-1 is required for cleavage of the inactive precursor form of IL-18 into an active cytokine, and caspase-1-deficient mice are resistant to lethal endotoxemia. The absence of IFN-gamma (but not IL-1beta) in caspase-1-deficient mice is responsible for this resistance. However, the role of IFN-gamma in murine defense against gram-negative infection is inconsistent. Mice deficient in IFN-gamma are not resistant to lethal endotoxemia but are resistant when treated with neutralizing antibodies to IL-18 and challenged with a lethal injection of some endotoxins. Anti-IL-18 treatment also reduces neutrophil accumulation in liver and lungs. Neutralizing IL-18 with the IL-18 binding protein protects mice against endotoxin- and ischemia-induced hepatic damage. Thus, blockade of IL-18 appears to be a viable clinical target to combat the pathologic consequences of sepsis via IFN-gamma mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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