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J Clin Invest 2002 Aug;110(4):493-7
Becher B, Durell BG, Noelle RJ.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA.
IL-12 is considered a critical proinflammatory cytokine for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).
IL-12 is a heterodimer composed of a p35 subunit and a common p40 subunit shared by other cytokines.
Both IL-12 p40(-/-) and p35(-/-) mice fail to produce IL-12 p70 heterodimer.
However, in contrast to p40(-/-) mice, p35(-/-) mice are highly susceptible to the induction of EAE, establishing that IL-12 p70 is not essential for the development of EAE.
When compared with wild-type mice, both p40(-/-) and p35(-/-) mice show deficiencies in primary IFN-gamma responses by lymph node cells.
Expression profiling of the inflamed CNS revealed that Th2 cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-10 are upregulated in p35(-/-) mice, whereas LT-alpha and TNF-alpha levels are reduced.
These studies show that a molecule other than IL-12 p70, which uses the p40 subunit, fulfills the functions previously attributed to IL-12 with regard to the development and pathogenesis of this autoimmune disease.