Thiol antioxidants inhibit the formation of the interleukin-12 heterodimer: A novel mechanism for the inhibition of IL-12 production

Daniela Mazzeo, Silvano Sacco, Pietro Di Lucia, Giuseppe Penna, Luciano Adorini, Paola Panina-Bordignon, Pietro Ghezzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

IL-12 is a 75 kDa heterodimeric cytokine composed of two disulfide-linked subunits, p35 and p40, which plays an important role in the regulation of the immune response. We tested the hypothesis that thiol antioxidants might interfere with dimerization of the two IL-12 subunits. We thus studied the effect of reduced glutathione (GSH) and N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) on IL-12 p75 production by human THP-1 cell stimulated with IFN-γ and Staphylococcus aureus Cowan strain I (SAC), using ELISAs specific for IL-12 p75 or the p40 subunit. NAC and GSH, but not cystine, at concentrations of 5-10 mM inhibited production of IL-12 p75 but not of the p40 subunit. NAC did not inhibit p40 or p35 mRNA expression in dendritic cells or THP-1 cells, or NF-κB activation in THP-1 cells. The effect of NAC was specific for IL-12 p75, as NAC did not affect induction of MHC class II expression by IFN-γ-stimulated THP-1 cells. IL-12 dimer formation appears to be reduced by NAC also in vivo, because pretreatment with NAC (1 g/kg, orally), before LPS injection in mice, inhibited peak IL-12 p75 serum levels without affecting those of p40. We conclude that thiol levels regulate IL-12 p75 production and that assembly of the heterodimer is a step that might represent a target for pharmacological intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalCytokine
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • Glutathione
  • IL-12
  • N-acetylcysteine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy

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