Interleukin 12 (IL-12) is crucial to the development of protective immunity in mice intravenously infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Department of Microbiology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.
Journal of Experimental Medicine (Impact Factor: 13.91). 08/1997; 186(1):39-45. DOI: 10.1084/jem.186.1.39
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is associated with the emergence of protective CD4 T cells that secrete cytokines, resulting in activation of macrophages and the recruitment of monocytes to initiate granuloma formation. The cytokine-mediating macrophage activation is interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), which is largely dependent on interleukin-12 (IL-12) for its induction. To address the role of IL-12 in immunity to tuberculosis, IL-12 p40(-/-) mice were infected with M. tuberculosis and their capacity to control bacterial growth and other characteristics of their immune response were determined. The IL-12 p40(-/-) mice were unable to control bacterial growth and this appeared to be linked to the absence of both innate and acquired sources of IFN-gamma. T cell activation as measured by delayed type hypersensitivity and lymphocyte accumulation at the site of infection were both markedly reduced in the IL-12 p40(-/-) mice. Therefore, IL-12 is essential to the generation of a protective immune response to M. tuberculosis, with its main functions being the induction of the expression of IFN-gamma and the activation of antigen-specific lymphocytes capable of creating a protective granuloma.

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