作者：Jun Zhang, Zhan Huang, Rui Sun, Zhigang Tian, Haiming Wei
ABSTRACT: Interleukin 12 (IL-12) is a pivotal Th1-associated cytokine and a potent immunoregulatory molecule. However, the role of IL-12 in inducing immune tolerance that prevents insulitis and inhibits type 1 diabetes (T1D) remains unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate whether intermittent administration of IL-12 could prevent the development of T1D in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice. We examined whether IL-12 treatment prevented diabetes by injecting different doses of IL-12 into NOD mice and compared the incidence of diabetes and insulitis in NOD mice with the incidence in control mice. Furthermore, we investigated the potential mechanisms of IL-12-mediated prevention of diabetes and insulitis. The expression of pro-inflammatory and immunoregulatory cytokines was measured before and following therapeutic administration of IL-12 in NOD mice. Our data demonstrated that both the absolute number and the function of DCs were impaired in NOD mice and that the levels of the Th17-associated pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1beta, IL-6 and IL-23, were elevated in NOD mice compared with age-matched BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. However, treatment of NOD mice with IL-12 suppressed insulitis and increased the number of healthy islets, and the levels of IL-17, IL-1beta, IL-6 and IL-23 were significantly decreased. Moreover, IL-12 treatment of NOD mice induced the secretion of IFN-gamma, a potent inhibitor of Th17 cells. These data indicated that intermittent administration of IL-12 prevented diabetes by inducing IFN-gamma, suppressing the pathogenic IL-17-producing cells and reducing the expression of Th17-associated pro-inflammatory cytokines. Our results suggest a promising strategy for the treatment of human T1D and other Th17 cell-mediated autoimmune diseases.