Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology, Respitatory Medicine, University of Nottingham, City Hospital, Nottingham, UK
Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) are targets for the immune-modulation of dendritic cells (DC). However, our knowledge of their role in the regulation of IL-12-family cytokines is limited. This study investigated the roles of p38, JNK, p44/42 and PI3K pathways in IL-12/23/27 production by human DC, and their impact on naïve T
H-responses. We first identified TOP and UBC as robust DC housekeeping genes. Peak transcription of p35 and p40 occurred by 12h, p19 and p28 by 8h and EBI3 by 12-24h. Using selective antagonists, we showed that p38 was a positive regulator of IL-12, 23 and 27, JNK positively regulated IL-12 and IL-27, and inhibition of MEK1/2 had no marked effect. In contrast, the PI3K pathway markedly attenuated IL-23 responses and, to a lesser extent, IL-12, but not IL-27. To identify the role of these soluble factors, we co-stimulated naïve CD4+ T-cells in the presence of DC supernatant. The presence of mature DC supernatant induced not only strong IFNγ responses, but also IL-10 and IL-17A. Inhibition of p38 ablated T
H1, and IL-10 and IL-17A responses, whilst modestly enhancing IL-5 secretion. In contrast, inhibition of MEK1/2 abolished IL-17A production, whilst leaving other responses unaffected, whereas inhibition of JNK or PI3K had no discernable effect. In summary, we describe the expression of IL-12-family cytokines from DC and propose a modified model for their regulation. This study further clarifies the potential for therapeutic modulation through these mediators.