Reduced IL-12 level correlates with decreased IFN-γ secreting T cells but not natural killer cell activity in asthmatic children

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Accessory cells such as macrophages and natural killer cells, and their cytokines such as IL-10, IL-12, and IFN-γ have been suggested to play a critical role in the development of T helper cells.


Both natural killer cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated and stimulated for their ability in producing cytokines. In addition, the percentage of IFN-γ-secreting cells was analyzed with the method of intracellular staining.


The data suggested (1) no significant difference between asthmatic children and normal controls in number, cytotoxicity, and IFN-γ production of purified NK cells; (2) decreased secretion of IL-12 by stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in asthmatic children compared with normals (P < .05); (3) decreased production of IFN-γ by PBMC from asthmatic children compared with normals (P < .05); and (4) intracellular expressed IFN-γ level was lower in CD4+ T cells of asthmatic children (P < .05).


The results suggested that IL-12 produced predominantly by macrophages and associated decreased IFN-γ-secreting CD4+ T cells play a critical role in the pathogenesis of asthma.

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