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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Feb;99(2):254-60.

Increases in IL-12 messenger RNA+ cells accompany inhibition of allergen-induced late skin responses after successful grass pollen immunotherapy.

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Department of Medicine and Pathology, Meakins Christie Laboratory, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


IL-12, a novel cytokine produced by tissue macrophages and B lymphocytes, stimulates proliferation of TH1-type T lymphocytes. We recently showed that in patients with summer hay fever, immunotherapy was effective and was associated with inhibition of allergen-induced late skin responses and increases in local interferon-gamma messenger RNA-positive cells. In this study 10 patients were reassessed after 4 years of immunotherapy and compared with 10 untreated patients with hay fever. Intradermal grass pollen challenge was performed, the late response was measured, and biopsies were performed at 24 hours. In situ hybridization of biopsy sections was performed by using a riboprobe coding for IL-12 mRNA. When immunotherapy and control subjects were compared, there was a marked reduction in the size of the late skin response (p = 0.0001). Significant increases in allergen-induced IL-12 mRNA+ cells in cutaneous biopsy specimens occurred only in the immunotherapy-treated group (all 10 patients, p = 0.002). At allergen-challenged sites, IL-12+ cells correlated positively with interferon-gamma + cells (r = 0.64, p < 0.05) and inversely with IL-4+ cells (r = -0.67, p < 0.05). The principal cell source (55% to 80%) of IL-12 message was the tissue macrophage (CD68+ cells). We suggest that IL-12 may promote TH1 responses and inhibit late-phase responses after successful immunotherapy.

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