IL-27R deficiency delays the onset of colitis and protects from helminth-induced pathology in a model of chronic IBD

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Members of the IL-6/IL-12 cytokine family play central roles in Crohn's disease. The present findings demonstrate that IL-27, a close relative of IL-12 and IL-23, can promote the onset of colitis in mice. We report that, compared with IL-10-deficient animals, which succumb to chronic intestinal disease at 3-6 months of age, mice lacking both IL-10 and the IL-27R (IL-27R/WSX-1) exhibit delayed pathology and prolonged survival (>1 year). Moreover, unlike highly susceptible IL-10-deficient counterparts, they were able to clear infection with Trichuris muris, a colon-dwelling nematode. In both models of intestinal inflammation, improved clinical outcome was associated with reduced inflammation and profound attenuation of Th1 responses and, consistent with these in vivo findings, we confirmed that during in vitro differentiation, IL-27 directly promotes CD4+ T cell IFN-γ production through effects on Tbet, a key Th1 transcription factor. We also found that its ability to suppress Th2 responses, which was clearly evident in helminth-infected IL-10−/−IL-27R−/− mice, was largely Tbet independent. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that, in the absence of IL-10, IL-27 can promote Th1-type and suppress Th2-type intestinal inflammation but, ultimately, is not required for the development of inflammatory bowel disease.

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