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Immunity. 2009 Aug 21;31(2):209-19. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2009.05.012. Epub 2009 Jul 30.

Interleukin-10 production by Th1 cells requires interleukin-12-induced STAT4 transcription factor and ERK MAP kinase activation by high antigen dose.

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  • 1Division of Immunoregulation, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, London NW7 1AA, UK.


CD4(+) T cells producing interleukin-10 (IL-10) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) are reported in chronic infections. However, the signals that direct the development of IL-10-producing T helper 1 (Th1) cells are undefined. We showed that development of IL-10-producing Th1 cells required high T cell receptor (TCR) ligation, sustained ERK1 and ERK2 MAP kinases phosphorylation, and IL-12-induced STAT4 transcription factor activation. Repeated TCR triggering led to enhanced IL-10 production by Th1 cells, and continued IL-12 action and high-dose TCR signaling were required for the development and maintenance of IL-10-producing Th1 cells. Although Th1, Th2, and Th17 cells require the activation of distinct STATs for their differentiation, activation of ERK1 and ERK2 was a common requirement for production of IL-10 by all Th cell subsets. IL-10 expression also correlated with c-maf expression. Despite having distinct functions in protection against pathogens, all Th cells share the important task of controlling overexuberant immune responses by means of IL-10 production.

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