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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Feb;28(2):669-80.

Neutralization of IL-12 demonstrates the existence of discrete organ-specific phases in the control of Leishmania donovani.

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Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, GB.


IL-12 plays a key role in stimulating both innate and antigen-specific immune responses against a number of intracellular pathogens. A neutralizing anti-IL-12 monoclonal antibody (mAb) was used to define and compare the role of endogenous IL-12 in the liver and spleen of mice infected with Leishmania donovani. IL-12 neutralization both early and late in infection caused delayed resolution of parasite load, a transient decrease in IFN-gamma, IL-4, TNF-alpha and inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS-2) production, and suppressed tissue granuloma formation in the liver of genetically susceptible BALB/c mice. In contrast to the liver of BALB/c mice, neutralization of IL-12 had no effect on parasite burden in the spleen over the first 28 days of infection. However, IL-12 appeared to be critical for the development of mechanisms which subsequently contain the growth of persistent parasites in this organ in that neutralization of IL-12 dramatically enhanced parasite growth after day 28 of infection. Following IL-12 neutralization, the later unchecked growth of parasites in the spleen was coincident with an extensive breakdown of the tissue microarchitecture. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that IL-12 was largely produced by uninfected cells in L. donovani-infected BALB/c mice. In contrast, the course of infection in the liver and spleen of genetically resistant CBA/n mice was unaffected by the administration of anti-IL-12 mAb. These results suggest that the liver and spleen in susceptible BALB/c mice have different temporal requirements for IL-12 in controlling L. donovani infection, whereas IL-12 plays little role in either organ in resistant CBA/n mice. In addition, IL-12 appears to be involved in the generation of both Th1 and Th2 responses during L. donovani infection in BALB/c mice.

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