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J Immunol. 1995 Nov 15;155(10):4661-8.

IL-12 as mediator and adjuvant for the induction of contact sensitivity in vivo.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Mainz, Germany.


To determine whether IL-12 serves as a regulator of contact sensitivity reactions, mice were painted with either 1.0% trinitrochlorobenzene or 0.5% dinitrofluorobenzene on abdominal skin. At various time points thereafter, regional lymph nodes or spleens were prepared for RNA extraction, and the signals for IL-12 p35 and p40 chain were sought by quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. Time course analysis showed a constitutive expression of p35 chain mRNA signals throughout the experiment (0 to 72 h), whereas the signal for the p40 chain was transiently induced in lymph node and spleen cells after 12 to 14 h. Cellular depletion experiments and double label in situ hybridization studies showed that dendritic cells were sources for a major part of the p40 chain message. The presence of functional IL-12 in culture supernatants was indirectly assessed by addition of anti-IL-12 antiserum and analysis of IFN-gamma production. Significant amounts of IFN-gamma could only be detected in supernatants of allergen-treated animals. Addition of anti-IL-12 antiserum inhibited IFN-gamma production by about 55%. In a further attempt to assess the role of IL-12 in contact sensitivity, anti-IL-12 antiserum was injected i.p. into mice, and ear swelling responses were assessed following challenge. Injection of anti-IL-12 antiserum significantly reduced ear swelling responses by 85%. Thus anti-IL-12 treatment almost completely prevented sensitization. To assess whether IL-12 would be able to overcome in vivo tolerance, UV-tolerized animals were treated with i.p. IL-12 in a contact allergy system. Treatment of mice with IL-12 not only prevented tolerance induction, but was able to reverse UV-induced tolerance. In aggregate, our data point to an important role for IL-12 as a mediator and adjuvant for the induction of contact sensitivity in vivo.

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