Interleukin-12 inhibits murine graft-versus-host disease

Megan Sykes, Gregory L. Szot, Phuong L. Nguyen, Denise A. Pearson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Interleukin-12 (IL-12) is a potent immunostimulatory cytokine and an inducer of type-1 T-helper cell activity and of cytotoxic T lymphocyte and natural killer cell function. We report here the paradoxical observation that a single injection of 4,900 IU of recombinant murine IL-12 inhibits acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in a fully major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plus multiple minor antigen-mismatched bone marrow transplantation (BMT) model (A/J → B10). The protective effect was enhanced by administration of T-cell-depleted host-type BM cells, and complete donor type lymphohematopoietic reconstitution was observed in most animals. Treatment with a protective course of IL-12 led to increased serum interferon-γ (IFN- γ) levels as compared with those for GVHD controls at early time points, when IFN-γ was produced predominantly by host-type natural killer cells, but led to almost complete inhibition of the later GVHD-associated increase in serum IFN-γ levels, when IFN-γ, is produced predominantly by CD4+ T cells. Furthermore, IL-12 treatment was associated with marked alterations in the kinetics of donor T-cell expansion. Reductions in donor CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were observed in the spleen on day 4 post-BMT, but a marked increase in donor CD8+ cells was observed on day 7. Unlike broadly immunosuppressive methods for inhibiting GVHD, which are associated with loss of antileukemic effects, IL-12 has the potential to mediate antileukemic effects of its own; therefore, the GVHD-inhibitory effects of IL-12 described here suggest a potential application for this cytokine in clinical BMT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2429-2438
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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