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J Immunol. 2006 Jun 15;176(12):7768-74.

IL-23 is increased in dendritic cells in multiple sclerosis and down-regulation of IL-23 by antisense oligos increases dendritic cell IL-10 production.

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Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Immunol. 2006 Aug 1;177(3):2025.


IL-23 is a heterodimeric cytokine comprising a p19 subunit associated with the IL-12/23p40 subunit. Like IL-12, IL-23 is expressed predominantly by activated dendritic cells (DCs) and phagocytic cells, and both cytokines induce IFN-gamma secretion by T cells. The induction of experimental autoimmune encephalitis, the animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS), occurs in mice lacking IL-12, but not in mice with targeted disruption of IL-23 or both IL-12 and IL-23. Thus, IL-23 expression in DCs may play an important role in the pathogenesis of human autoimmune diseases such as MS. We quantified the expression of IL-23 in monocyte-derived DCs in MS patients and healthy donors and found that DCs from MS patients secrete elevated amounts of IL-23 and express increased levels of IL-23p19 mRNA. Consistent with this abnormality, we found increased IL-17 production by T cells from MS patients. We then transfected monocyte-derived DCs from healthy donors with antisense oligonucleotides specific for the IL-23p19 and IL-12p35 genes and found potent suppression of gene expression and blockade of bioactive IL-23 and IL-12 production without affecting cellular viability or DCs maturation. Inhibition of IL-23 and IL-12 was associated with increased IL-10 and decreased TNF-alpha production. Furthermore, transfected DCs were poor allostimulators in the MLR. Our results demonstrate that an abnormal Th1 bias in DCs from MS patients related to IL-23 exists, and that antisense oligonucleotides specific to IL-23 can be used for immune modulation by targeting DC gene expression.

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