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Abstract

Objective

Our previous studies have shown that murine dendritic cells (DCs) genetically modified to express interleukin-4 (IL-4) reduce the incidence and severity of murine collagen-induced arthritis. The present studies were performed to assess the immunoregulatory mechanisms underlying this response, by assessing the effects of IL-4 DCs on cytokine production by subsets of T helper cells.

Methods

Male DBA mice ages 6–8 weeks old were immunized with type II collagen. Splenic T cells obtained during the initiation phase and the end stage of arthritis were cultured with IL-4 DCs or untransduced DCs in the presence of collagen rechallenge. Interferon-γ (IFNγ) and IL-17 responses were measured. Antibodies to IL-4, IL-12, and IL-23, and recombinant IL-4, IL-12, and IL-23 were used to further study the regulation of T cell cytokine production by IL-4 DCs.

Results

Splenic T cells obtained during the initiation phase of arthritis produced less IL-17 when cultured in the presence of IL-4 DCs, despite their production of increased quantities of other proinflammatory cytokines (IFNγ and tumor necrosis factor). T cell IL-17 production after collagen rechallenge was not inhibited by a lack of IL-23, since IL-4–mediated suppression of IL-17 was not reconstituted by IL-23, an otherwise potent inducer of IL-17 production by T cells. Although IL-4 DCs can produce increased quantities of IL-12 and IFNγ, suppression of IL-17 production by IL-4 DCs was independent of both. While IL-17 production by T cells obtained during the initiation phase of arthritis was regulated by IL-4 DCs, IL-17 production by T cells obtained during end-stage arthritis was not altered.

Conclusion

Our data suggest that IL-4 DCs exert a therapeutic effect on collagen-induced arthritis by targeting IL-17. IL-17 suppression by IL-4 DCs is robust and is not reversed by IL-23. Timing might be important in IL-17–targeted therapy, since IL-17 production by T cells obtained during end-stage arthritis did not respond to suppression by IL-4 DCs.