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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 10, Issue 2, Pages 51-59

Anti-inflammatory cytokines in asthma and allergy: interleukin-10, interleukin-12, interferon-γ

National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College School of Medicine, London SW3 6LY, UK

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Interleukin-10 (IL-10) is a cytokine derived from CD4+ T-helper type 2 (TH2) cells identified as a suppressor of cytokines from T-helper type 1(TH1) cells. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) is produced by B cells, macrophages and dendritic cells, and primarily regulates TH1 cell differentiation, while suppressing the expansion of TH2 cell clones. Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) is a product of TH1 cells and exerts inhibitory effects on TH2 cell differentiation. These cytokines have been implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma and allergies. In this context, IL-12 and IFN-γ production in asthma have been found to be decreased, and this may reduce their capacity to inhibit IgE synthesis and allergic inflammation. IL-10 is a potent inhibitor of monocyte/macrophage function, suppressing the production of many pro-inflammatory cytokines. A relative underproduction of IL-10 from alveolar macrophages of atopic asthmatics has been reported. Therapeutic modulation of TH1/TH2 imbalance in asthma and allergy by mycobacterial vaccine, specific immunotherapy and cytoline-guanosine dinucleotide motif may lead to increases in IL-12 and IFN-γ production. Stimulation of IL-10 production by antigen-specific T-cells during immunotherapy may lead to anergy through inhibition of CD28-costimulatory molecule signalling by IL-10s anti-inflammatory effect on basophils, mast cells and eosinophils.