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IL-12 is the prominent inducer of Th1 responses in humans and in the mouse. CD40 ligand (CD40L) plays important roles in regulation of immune responses, including T cell-dependent activation of B cells and cytokine production by monocytes and dendritic cells. The present study examined the influences of IL-12 on the CD40L expression of activated human CD4+ T cells. IL-12 enhanced CD40L expression on CD4+ T cells stimulated with immobilized anti-CD3 in the complete absence of accessory cells, whereas IL-4 and IL-10 decreased it. Exogenous interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) did not increase CD40L expression on immobilized anti-CD3 stimulated CD4+ T cells at any time up to 168 h of culture. The IL-12-induced enhancement of CD40L expression on anti-CD3 activated CD4+ T cells was not influenced in the presence of a metalloproteinase inhibitor KB8301, which up-regulated CD40L expression by preventing the processing of membrane-bound CD40L, or B cells, which down-regulated CD40L expression by receptor-mediated endocytosis. These results indicate that IL-12 enhances the CD40L expression of activated CD4+ T cells independently of the IFN-γ production. The data thus suggest that Th1 responses induced by IL-12 might play an important role in the regulation of humoral immune responses through up-regulated CD40L expression.