Antigen-presenting cells, including dendritic cells, monocytes and macrophages, produce members of the interleukin-12 (IL-12) family that are important in initiating and maintaining cell-mediated immune responses. These include IL-12p35 and p19 that dimerize with IL-12p40 to form IL-12 (also termed IL-12p75) and IL-23, respectively, and Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3 (EBI3) protein (a protein related to IL-12p40), that forms a dimer with p28, termed IL-27. Intestinal epithelial cells, which are the initial site of contact between the host and enteric pathogens, can act as antigen-presenting cells, and are known to express mediators important in inflammatory and immune responses. In the current studies, we hypothesized that intestinal epithelial cells express members of the IL-12 family, which can function as an early signalling system important in mucosal immunity. Using in vitro and in vivo model systems of human intestinal epithelium, we demonstrate the regulated expression of EBI3, IL-12p35 and p19 by human intestinal epithelial cells. However, intestinal epithelial cells do not coexpress IL-12p40 or p28 that are required to generate heterodimeric IL-12p75, IL-23 and IL-27. To the extent that IL-12p35, p19 and EBI3 cannot form IL-12p75, IL-23 or IL-27 heterodimers in intestinal epithelial cells, these data suggest that those cells may express other, currently unknown, molecules that can associate with EBI3, IL-12p35 and/or p19 or, alternatively, intestinal epithelial cells may release IL-12-related molecules that by themselves, or in combination with other molecules in the mucosal microenvironment, mediate biological activities.
- Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene-3
- IL-12-related molecules
- Intestinal epithelial cells
- Intestinal xenograft