IL-12 Antagonism Induces T Helper 2 Responses, yet Exacerbates Cardiac Allograft Rejection: Evidence Against a Dominant Protective Role for T Helper 2 Cytokines in Alloimmunity

Joseph R. Piccotti, Sherri Y. Chan, Richard E. Goodman, Jeanne Magram, Ernst J. Eichwald, D. Keith Bishop

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130 Scopus citations


IL-12 promotes Th1 development and inhibits the generation of Th2 by inducing IFN-γ production. In several experimental models, Th2 are preferentially induced in the absence of IL-12. It was proposed that the preferential induction of Th2 by IL-12 antagonism would inhibit Th1-driven rejection responses, thereby promoting allograft acceptance. To test this possibility, mouse cardiac allograft recipients were treated with either anti-IL-12 Abs, or with the IL-12 receptor antagonist p40 homodimer. Unmodified rejection is characterized by a Th1-dominated response, with Th2 cytokines being absent or only weakly expressed within the allograft. Though both forms of IL-12 antagonism induced Th2 cytokine expression within the allograft, these treatments surprisingly exacerbated graft rejection relative to control animals. Interestingly, IL-12 antagonism did not inhibit IFN-γ gene expression or in vivo sensitization of IFN-γ-producing cells. Similar observations were made when IL-12 p40 knockout mice were used as allograft donors and recipients, verifying that IL-12 was not required for Th1 development. Further, IL-12 antagonism was associated with strong expression of p40 and weak expression of p35 within the graft. Neither p35 nor p40 mRNAs were detectable in control allografts. These data indicate that while IL-12 antagonism does induce Th2 cytokine expression within cardiac allografts, Th2 cytokines do not play a dominant protective role in the rejection process. Further, the Th2-inducing activity of IL-12 antagonism is not related to decreased IFN-γ production, but may reflect altered regulation of IL-12 itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1951-1957
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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