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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Sep 15;89(18):8676-80.

Interleukin 10 inhibits macrophage microbicidal activity by blocking the endogenous production of tumor necrosis factor alpha required as a costimulatory factor for interferon gamma-induced activation.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20814.


Interleukin 10 (IL-10) inhibits interferon gamma-induced macrophage activation for cytotoxicity against larvae of the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni by suppressing production of the toxic effector molecule nitric oxide (NO). In this study, the mechanism of IL-10 action was identified as inhibition of endogenous tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) production by interferon gamma-activated macrophages. TNF-alpha appears to serve as a cofactor for interferon gamma-mediated activation, since both schistosomulum killing and NO production were inhibited by anti-TNF-alpha antibody, whereas TNF-alpha alone was unable to stimulate these macrophage functions. IL-10 blocked TNF-alpha production by interferon gamma-treated macrophages at the levels of both protein and mRNA synthesis. Addition of exogenous TNF-alpha reversed IL-10-mediated suppression of macrophage cytotoxic activity as well as NO production. Likewise, addition of a macrophage-triggering agent (bacterial lipopolysaccharide or muramyl dipeptide), which induced the production of TNF-alpha, also reversed the suppressive effect of IL-10 on cytotoxic function. In contrast to IL-10, two other cytokines, IL-4 and transforming growth factor beta, which also inhibit macrophage activation for schistosomulum killing and NO production, did not substantially suppress endogenous TNF-alpha production. These results, therefore, describe a separate pathway by which macrophage microbicidal function is inhibited by the down-regulatory cytokine IL-10.

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