PloS one

IL-18 induces airway hyperresponsiveness and pulmonary inflammation via CD4+ T cell and IL-13.

PMID 23382928


IL-18 plays a key role in the pathogenesis of pulmonary inflammatory diseases including pulmonary infection, pulmonary fibrosis, lung injury and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it is unknown whether IL-18 plays any role in the pathogenesis of asthma. We hypothesized that overexpression of mature IL-18 protein in the lungs may exacerbate disease activities of asthma. We established lung-specific IL-18 transgenic mice on a Balb/c genetic background. Female mice sensitized- and challenged- with antigen (ovalbumin) were used as a mouse asthma model. Pulmonary inflammation and emphysema were not observed in the lungs of naïve transgenic mice. However, airway hyperresponsiveness and airway inflammatory cells accompanied with CD4(+) T cells, CD8(+) T cells, eosinophils, neutrophils, and macrophages were significantly increased in ovalbumin-sensitized and challenged transgenic mice, as compared to wild type Balb/c mice. We also demonstrate that IL-18 induces IFN-γ, IL-13, and eotaxin in the lungs of ovalbumin-sensitized and challenged transgenic mice along with an increase in IL-13 producing CD4(+) T cells. Treatment with anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody or deletion of the IL-13 gene improves ovalbumin-induced airway hyperresponsiveness and reduces airway inflammatory cells in transgenic mice. Overexpressing the IL-18 protein in the lungs induces type 1 and type 2 cytokines and airway inflammation, and results in increasing airway hyperresponsiveness via CD4(+) T cells and IL-13 in asthma.