We showed recently that activation of Vα14+ natural killer T cells (NKT cells) by α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) resulted in increased gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production and host resistance to intravenous infection with Cryptococcus neoformans. In other studies, interleukin-18 (IL-18) activated NKT cells in collaboration with IL-12, suggesting the possible contribution of this cytokine to α-GalCer-induced IFN-γ synthesis. Here we examined the role of IL-18 in α-GalCer-induced Thl response by using IL-18KO mice with this infection. In these mice, levels of IFN-γ in serum and its synthesis in vitro by spleen cells stimulated with live organisms were not reduced, but rather enhanced, compared to those in wild-type (WT) mice, while such production was completely absent in IL-12KO mice. The enhanced production of IFN-γ correlated with increased IL-12 synthesis but not with reduced production of IL-4, which was rather increased. IFN-γ synthesis in IL-18KO mice was abolished by neutralizing anti-IL-12 antibody and significantly inhibited by neutralization of endogenous IL-4 with a specific monoclonal antibody. In addition, administration of recombinant IL-4 significantly enhanced the production of IFN-γ in WT mice. Finally, the enhanced production of IFN-γ in IL-18KO mice correlated with increased host defense against cryptococcal infection, as indicated by enhancement in α-GalCer-related clearance of microorganisms. Our results indicated that in IL-18KO mice, IFN-γ synthesis was enhanced through overproduction of IL-12 and IL-4 after intravenous infection with C. neoformans and a ligand-specific activation of Vα14+ NKT cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases