Studies from our laboratory have shown that infection of mice with an attenuated strain of Salmonella typhimurium causes a marked suppression in the capacity of splenocytes to generate an in vitro plaque-forming cell (PFC) response to sheep erythrocytes. The suppression has been shown to be mediated by mature, adherent macrophages (MΦs) and nonadherent, precursor MΦs. Nitric oxide has been identified as the suppressor factor. The present study investigated the role of interleukin-12 (IL-12) in the generation of nitric oxide-mediated immunosuppression in this model. Salmonella inoculation resulted in marked suppression of PFC responses and high levels of nitrite production. When mice were treated with anti-IL-12 prior to inoculation, nitrite levels in splenocyte cultures were reduced by 75% and the suppression of PFC responses was prevented. The nonadherent splenocyte fraction from Salmonella-inoculated mice, which contains precursor MΦs and is weakly immunosuppressive, was treated with IL-12 in vitro. IL-12 augmented the capacity of this fraction to suppress PFC responses by normal splenocytes in a coculture system. Additionally, IL-12 induced nitrite and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production in a dose-dependent manner. Treatment with anti-IFN-γ blocked nitrite production and suppression, indicating that IFN-γ is an important intermediary in the pathway of IL-12-induced immunosuppression. These results indicate that IL-12 is critical for the induction of nitric oxide-mediated immunosuppression following S. typhimurium inoculation and, through its ability to stimulate IFN-γ production, can induce nitric oxide- producing suppressor MΦs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases