Author(s): Yang Z, Zhang X, Darrah PA, Mosser DM
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Abstract IL-12 is a dimeric cytokine that is produced primarily by APCs. In this study we examined the role that the p38 MAPKs (MAPK/p38) play in regulating IL-12 production. We show that inhibition of p38 dramatically increased IL-12 production upon stimulation, while decreasing TNF-α. This reciprocal effect on these two cytokines following MAPK/p38 inhibition occurred in many different APCs, following a variety of different stimuli. IL-12 production was also increased in macrophages treated with small interfering RNA to limit p38α expression, and in macrophages deficient in MKK3, a kinase upstream of p38. The increase in IL-12 production following MAPK/p38 inhibition appears to be due to enhanced IL-12 (p40) mRNA stability. We show that MAPK/p38 inhibition can promote Th1 immune responses and thereby enhance vaccine efficacy against leishmaniasis. In a mouse model of Leishmania major infection, vaccination with heat-killed L. major plus CpG and SB203580 elicited complete protection against infection compared with heat-killed L. major plus CpG without SB203580. Thus, this work suggests that MAPK/p38 inhibitors may be applied as adjuvants to bias immune responses and improve vaccinations against intracellular pathogens.
This article was published in J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology