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J Immunol. 1999 Feb 15;162(4):2217-26.

IL-12 administered during Chlamydia psittaci lung infection in mice confers immediate and long-term protection and reduces macrophage inflammatory protein-2 level and neutrophil infiltration in lung tissue.

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Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, AL 36849, USA.


Protection against infections with the intracellular bacterium Chlamydia spp. requires Th1-polarized CD4+ T cell immunity. In BALB/c mouse lung infections, immediate innate and nascent Chlamydia-specific immune responses following intranasal inoculation of Chlamydia psittaci strain B577 were modulated by 7-day i.p. administration of murine rIL-12, the initiation cytokine for Th1 immunity. Treatment with IL-12 reduced the severity of chlamydial pneumonia, abolished mortality (37.5% in untreated mice), and significantly reduced numbers of chlamydial organisms in lungs. On day 4 after inoculation, the neutrophil:macrophage ratio in bronchointerstitial pneumonias was 1.96 in untreated mice and 0.51 in IL-12-treated mice. This immediate, IL-12-mediated shift in innate inflammatory phenotype was correlated with a significant reduction of lung concentrations of the neutrophil chemoattractant macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2 (putative murine homologue of human IL-8), monocyte chemotactic protein-1, and TNF-alpha; and a reduction in MIP-1alpha and IFN-gamma, at high-dose infection only, and IL-12-independent IL-10 levels. Chlamydia-specific Ab titers and Ig isotype ratios indicated an IL-12-dependent Th1 shift. Recall responses of IL-12-primed mice to secondary chlamydial lung infection eliminated chlamydiae more effectively and generated a lung cytokine profile conducive to perpetuation of the Th1 memory population. These data support the hypothesis that genetic differences in endogenous IL-12 production and response pathways could determine disease outcomes characterized by poor chlamydial clearance and a purulent inflammatory infiltrate vs effective elimination of chlamydiae in a macrophage-dominated response.

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