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J Immunol. 2005 Aug 15;175(4):2191-200.

A role for IL-27 in early regulation of Th1 differentiation.

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Intractable Immune System Disease Research Center, Tokyo Medical University, Japan.


IL-27 is a novel IL-6/IL-12 family cytokine that is considered to play a role in Th1 differentiation, whereas the exact role of IL-27 in Th1 differentiation and its molecular mechanism remain unclear. In this study we demonstrate a role for IL-27 in the early regulation of Th1 differentiation and its possible molecular mechanism. The ability of IL-27 to induce Th1 differentiation was most prominent under Th1-polarizing conditions, but without IL-12 in a STAT4- and IFN-gamma-independent manner, and was overruled by IL-12 dose dependently. IL-27 rapidly up-regulated the expression of ICAM-1 on naive CD4+ T cells, but not on APCs, and blocking Abs against ICAM-1 and LFA-1 inhibited the IL-27-induced Th1 differentiation. Although IL-27 augmented T-bet expression in naive CD4+ T cells as previously reported, T-bet was not necessary for the IL-27-induced rapid up-regulation of ICAM-1 expression and Th1 differentiation. In contrast, STAT1 was revealed to be required for the rapid up-regulation of ICAM-1 expression and Th1 differentiation by directly mediating the transcriptional enhancement of ICAM-1 gene expression. These results indicate that IL-27 efficiently induces Th1 differentiation under Th1-polarizing conditions, but without IL-12, and that the rapid up-regulation of ICAM-1 expression on naive CD4+ T cells is important for the IL-27-induced Th1 differentiation. Considering that IL-27 is produced from macrophages and DCs earlier than IL-12, the present results suggest that IL-27 may play a pivotal role in early efficient induction of Th1 differentiation until sufficient IL-12 is produced.

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