Early IL-4 production does not predict susceptibility to Leishmania major

Phillip Scott, Ashlyn Eaton, William C. Gause, Xia D.I. Zhou, Brian Hondowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Leishmania major in mice can be self-limiting or fatal, depending upon the inbred mouse strain. It is well established that the outcome of infection is dependent upon the Th cell subset that dominates after infection. This has led to intense study of the early events associated with infection, in order to better understand the factors that determine Th1/2 cell development. In the present report, we have analyzed the kinetics of IL-4 and IL-4 mRNA production in three mouse strains: BALB/c, C3H, and C57BL/6. We found that in the first week IL-4 is absent in the C3H mice, but present in the susceptible BALB/c and relatively resistant C57BL/6 mouse. These data indicate that the presence of IL-4 by itself does not determine whether the immune response will be dominated by Th2 cells, since C57BL/6 mice will eventually develop a Th1 response and heal. We suggest that the critical cytokine that determines susceptibility in experimental leishmaniasis is IL-12, rather than IL-4. Thus, in C3H mice IL-12 is evident soon after infection, and IL-4 responses are not observed. In C57BL/6 mice, IL-12 production is delayed, but once evident, the IL-4 response is ablated. Further, we show that addition of IL-12 can block early IL-4 production in BALB/c mice, and neutralization of IL-12 in C3H mice uncovers IL-4 production in response to L. major infection. Taken together, these data indicate that susceptibility to L. major, while possibly requiring IL-4, is not determined by the presence or absence of IL-4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-187
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Parasitology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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