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Keywords:

  • interferon-λ1;
  • interleukin-13;
  • interleukin-29;
  • interleukin-4;
  • interleukin-5;
  • T helper type 2

Summary

Interferon (IFN)-λ1 [interleukin (IL)-29] is a member of the interferon lambda family (also known as type III interferons), whose members are distantly related to both the type I interferons and members of the IL-10 family. While IFN-λ1 has significant antiviral activity, it is also becoming apparent that it has important immunoregulatory properties, especially with regard to the T helper type 2 (Th2) response. Previously, we have shown that IFN-λ1 is capable of down-regulating IL-13 production in an IFN-γ-independent manner and that this is mediated in part via monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Here, we have extended our knowledge of IFN-λ1 regulation of the human in vitro Th2 response by examining the regulation of three major Th2 cytokines, IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13, by IFN-λ1. Our results reveal that IFN-λ1 preferentially inhibits IL-13 production, compared with IL-4 or IL-5. Levels of IL-13 mRNA, the amount of secreted IL-13 protein and numbers of IL-13-positive CD3+ CD4+ cells were all significantly diminished by IFN-λ1. IFN-λ1 significantly decreased some aspects of IL-4 and IL-5 production, but its effects were not as consistent as those seen on IL-13. IFN-λ1 was also effective at decreasing IL-13 secretion under conditions designed to support the generation of Th2 cells. Irrespective of whether Concanavalin-A or T-cell-stimulatory microbeads were used, IFN-λ1 markedly diminished IL-13 secretion in cultures where IL-4 had been added. Thus, IFN-λ1 appears to be an inhibitor of human Th2 responses whose action is primarily directed towards IL-13 but which may also affect Th2 responses generally and does not invoke a complementary elevation of IFN-γ secretion.