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Eur J Immunol. 1993 Aug;23(8):1762-70.

Interleukin-12/T cell stimulating factor, a cytokine with multiple effects on T helper type 1 (Th1) but not on Th2 cells.

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Institut für Immunologie, Mainz, FRG.


At least two subsets of CD4+ T helper cell lymphocytes termed Th1 and Th2 exist in the mouse and probably in humans. They are characterized by the secretion of different lymphokines and by their functional behavior. Dysregulated expansion of one or the other subset may be one reason for the development of certain diseases. Thus, it is of importance to define the signals involved in the differentiation and activation of the two Th cell subsets. It is known and has been confirmed in this report that the cytokine interleukin (IL)-1 acts on Th2 cells but not on Th1 cells. We now report that a previously identified cytokine which was provisionally termed T cell stimulating factor is identical with IL-12 and exhibits a reciprocal behaviour to IL-1. IL-12 has several effects on Th1 cells. It can induce the proliferation of certain Th1 cells in combination with IL-2. Synthesis of interferon (IFN)-gamma by Th1 cells can be triggered by IL-2 plus IL-12. In contrast to the IFN-gamma production observed after T cell receptor (TcR) CD3 stimulation of Th1 cells with lectin Concanavalin A the IFN-gamma production induced by IL-12 + IL-2 is insensitive to the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporin A. Furthermore, IL-12 enhances the TcR/CD3-induced synthesis of IFN-gamma of several Th1 clones. Finally, IL-12 (+IL-2) induces homotypic cell aggregation of Th1 clones. This type of cell aggregation depends on the participation of LFA-1 and ICAM-1 molecules. In all activation systems with Th1 cells no effect of IL-1 was demonstrable. In contrast, only IL-1 but not IL-12 served as a co-stimulatory signal for several Th2 cell lines activated via the TcR/CD3 complex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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