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J Immunol. 2004 Jan 1;172(1):567-76.

Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 is the dominant mediator of the anti-inflammatory effects of IL-10 in human macrophages.

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Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Division, Imperial College London, ARC Building, 1 Aspenlea Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8LH, United Kingdom.


The signaling mechanism by which the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 mediates suppression of proinflammatory cytokine synthesis remains largely unknown. Macrophage-specific STAT3-null mice have demonstrated that STAT3 plays a critical role in the suppression of LPS-induced TNF-alpha release, although the mechanism by which STAT3 mediates this inhibition is still not clear. Using an adenoviral system, we have expressed a dominant negative (DN) STAT3 in human macrophages to broaden the investigation to determine the role of STAT3 in IL-10-mediated anti-inflammatory signaling and gene expression. Overexpression of STAT3 DN completely inhibited IL-10-induced suppressor of cytokine signaling 3, tissue inhibitor of MMP-1, TNF receptor expression, and the recently identified IL-10-inducible genes, T cell protein tyrosine phosphatase and signaling lymphocyte activation molecule. STAT3 DN also blocked IL-10-mediated inhibition of MHC class II and COX2 expression. In agreement with the studies in STAT3-null mice, overexpression of the STAT3 DN completely reversed the ability of IL-10 to inhibit LPS-mediated TNF-alpha and IL-6 production. However, real-time PCR analysis showed that STAT3 DN expression did not affect immediate suppression of TNF-alpha mRNA, but did reverse the suppression observed at later time points, suggesting a biphasic regulation of TNF-alpha mRNA levels by IL-10. In conclusion, although STAT3 does appear to be the dominant mediator of the majority of IL-10 functions, there are elements of its anti-inflammatory activity that are STAT3 independent.

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