Induction of IL-2 by interleukin-12 p40 homodimer and IL-12, but not IL-23, in microglia and macrophages: Implications for multiple sclerosis.
The level of IL-2 increases markedly in serum and central nervous system (CNS) of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and animals with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). However, mechanisms by which IL-2 is induced under autoimmune demyelinating conditions are poorly understood. The present study underlines the importance of IL-12p40 homodimer (p402 ), the so-called biologically inactive molecule, in inducing the expression of IL-2 in mouse BV-2 microglial cells, primary mouse and human microglia, mouse peritoneal macrophages, RAW264.7 macrophages, and T cells. Interestingly, we found that p402 and IL-12p70 (IL-12), but not IL-23, dose-dependently induced the production of IL-2 and the expression of IL-2 mRNA in microglial cells. Similarly, p402 also induced the activation of IL-2 promoter in microglial cells and RAW264.7 cells. Among various stimuli tested, p402 was the most potent stimulus followed by IFN-γ, bacterial lipopolysaccharide, HIV-1 gp120, and IL-12 in inducing the activation of IL-2 promoter in microglial cells. Moreover, p402 , but not IL-23, increased NFATc2 mRNA expression and the transcriptional activity of NFAT. Furthermore, induction of IL-2 mRNA expression by over-expression of p40, but not by p19, cDNA indicated that p40, but not p19, is responsible for the induction of IL-2 mRNA in microglia. Finally, by using primary microglia from IL to 12 receptor β1 deficient (IL-12Rβ1-/- ) and IL-12 receptor β2 deficient (IL-12Rβ2-/- ) mice, we demonstrate that p402 induces the expression of IL-2 via IL-12Rβ1, but not IL-12Rβ2. In experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of MS, neutralization of p402 by mAb a3-1d led to decrease in clinical symptoms and reduction in IL-2 in T cells and microglia. These results delineate a new biological function of p402 , which is missing in the so-called autoimmune cytokine IL-23, and raise the possibility of controlling increased IL-2 and the disease process of MS via neutralization of p402 .
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