Interleukin (IL)-12 may be secreted as a bioactive T helper type 1 (Th1) cell-inducing heterodimer, as a monomer, or as an antagonistic homodimer. We analyzed the IL-12 produced by mouse splenic dendritic cells (DCs), human thymic DCs, and cultured human monocyte-derived DCs. IL-12 production required both a microbial or T cell-derived stimulus and an appropriate cytokine milieu. The different IL-12 forms were differentially regulated by the cytokines present rather than the stimulus used. IL-4 alone or together with granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor or interferon γ effectively enhanced the production of the bioactive heterodimer and selectively reduced the antagonistic homodimer of IL-12. Therefore, IL-4, the major Th2-driving cytokine, provides a negative feedback causing DCs to produce the major Th1-inducing cytokine, bioactive IL-12.
- Granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor
- Homodimeric interleukin 12
- Interferon γ
- T helper type 1
- T helper type 2