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J Immunol. 2013 Feb 15;190(4):1510-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1201017. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

A novel role for IL-27 in mediating the survival of activated mouse CD4 T lymphocytes.

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Division of Developmental Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


IL-27, an IL-12 family cytokine, has pleiotropic functions in the differentiation and expansion of CD4(+) T cell subsets. In this study, we discovered a novel function of IL-27. CD4(+)CD45RB(high) T cells from mice deficient for the α-chain of IL-27 receptor failed to induce colitis in Rag(-/-) recipients, because of an inability of activated donor cells to survive. Interestingly, IL-27 was indispensable for the prevention of colitis by regulatory T cells, also because of a defect in long-term cell survival. IL-27 affected the survival of activated T lymphocytes, rather than promoting cell proliferation, by inhibiting Fas-mediated activation-induced T cell death, acting through the STAT3 signaling pathway. The addition of IL-27 during activation resulted in an increased cell number, which was correlated with decreased activation of both caspases 3 and 8. This prosurvival effect was attributed to downregulation of FasL and to the induction of the antiapoptotic protein cFLIP. Although activation induced cell death is an important mechanism for the maintenance of immunological homeostasis, protection of lymphocytes from excessive cell death is essential for effective immunity. Our data indicate that IL-27 has a crucial role in the inhibition of activation-induced cell death, thereby permitting Ag-driven T cell expansion.

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