Interleukin-12 promotes a chronic intestinal nematode infection

Allison J. Bancroft, Kathryn J. Else, Joseph P. Sypek, Richard K. Grencis

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Resistance and susceptibility to the intestinal parasite Trichuris muris has been shown to be due to a dominant T helper 2 (Th2) and a dominant Th1 response, respectively. The factors determining the initial polarization of the immune response remain largely unresolved, although the cytokine environment at the time of antigen presentation clearly plays an essential role. Interleukin (IL)-12, a cytokine produced mainly by macrophages, dendritic cells, and other monocytes has been shown to be important in driving a strong Th1 response by stimulating the production of interferon (IFN)-γ from natural killer and Th0 cells and therefore forms a link between the innate and adaptive immune system. IL-12 has been shown to play an important role in resistance to a number of intracellular pathogens, including Listeria and Leishmania. It has also been proposed as an anti-tumor agent and for use in the treatment of HIV. Conversely, IL-12 has been shown to prolong the survival of Nippostrongylus brasiliensis and to accelerate autoimmunity. Our studies demonstrate that by driving a strong Th1 response, IL-12 promotes chronic T. muris infection when given to normally resistant BALB/K mice. Parasite-specific IgG2a, a Th1 parameter of infection, was greatly up-regulated, whereas some Th2 parameters of infection were down-regulated. IL-12 treatment could be delayed until 1 week after infection had started and still promote a strong Th1 response. The actions of IL-12 in promoting a chronic infection were IFN-γ dependent as an anti-IFN-γ mAb abrogated the effects of IL-12.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866-870
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean journal of immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Interleukin-12
  • Mouse
  • Th1
  • Th2
  • Trichuris muris


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