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J Immunol. 2005 Mar 15;174(6):3534-44.

The IL-27 receptor chain WSX-1 differentially regulates antibacterial immunity and survival during experimental tuberculosis.

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Junior Research Group Molecular Infection Biology, Research Center Borstel, Borstel, Germany.


IL-12 is a potent inducer of IFN-gamma production and promotes a protective cell-mediated immune response after Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Recently, the IL-12-related cytokine IL-27 was discovered, and WSX-1 was identified as one component of the IL-27R complex. To determine the functional significance of IL-27/WSX-1 during tuberculosis, we analyzed the course of infection and the immune response in WSX-1-KO mice after aerosol infection with M. tuberculosis. In the absence of WSX-1, an increased production of the proinflammatory cytokines TNF and IL-12p40 resulted in elevated CD4+ T cell activation and IFN-gamma production, which enhanced macrophage effector functions and reduced bacterial loads. This is the first occasion of a selectively gene-deficient mouse strain showing higher levels of protective immunity against M. tuberculosis infection than wild-type mice. However, a concomitantly increased chronic inflammatory response also accelerated death of infected WSX-1-KO mice. In vitro, IL-27 induced STAT3 phosphorylation and inhibited TNF and IL-12 production in activated peritoneal macrophages, indicating a novel feedback mechanism by which IL-27 can modulate excessive inflammation. In conclusion, IL-27 both prevents optimal antimycobacterial protection and limits the pathological sequelae of chronic inflammation.

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