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The IL-12 family of cytokines plays crucial functions in innate and adaptive immunity. These cytokines include heterodimers sharing distinct α (IL-12A, IL-23A, and IL-27A) with two β (IL-12B and Epstein-Barr virus induced gene 3 [EBI3]) chains, respectively, IL-12 (IL-12B plus IL-12A) and IL-23 (IL-12B plus IL-23A) sharing IL-12B, IL-27 (EBI3 plus IL-27A), IL-35 (EBI3 plus IL-12A), and IL-39 (EBI3 plus IL-23A) sharing EBI3. In this context, we have recently reported that highly pure neutrophils incubated with TLR8 agonists produce functional IL-23. Previously, we showed that neutrophils incubated with LPS plus IFNγ for 20 h produce IL-12. Herein, we investigated whether highly pure, TLR8-activated, neutrophils produce EBI3, and in turn IL-27, IL-35, and IL-39, the IL-12 members containing it. We report that neutrophils incubated with TLR8 ligands, TNFα and, to a lesser extent, LPS, produce and release remarkable amounts of EBI3, but not IL-27A, consequently excluding the possibility for an IL-27 production. We also report a series of unsuccessful experiments performed to investigate whether neutrophil-derived EBI3 associates with IL-23A to form IL-39. Furthermore, we show that neutrophils incubated with IFNγ in combination with either TLR8 or TLR4 ligands express/produce neither IL-12, nor IL-35, due to the inability of IFNγ, contrary to previous findings, to activate IL12A transcription. Even IL-27 was undetectable in supernatants harvested from IFNγ plus R848-treated neutrophils, although they were found to accumulate IL27A transcripts. Finally, by immunohistochemistry experiments, EBI3-positive neutrophils were found in discrete pathologies only, including diverticulitis, cholecystitis, Gorham disease, and Bartonella Henselae infection, implying a specific role of neutrophil-derived EBI3 in vivo. ©2020 Society for Leukocyte Biology.


Marco A Cassatella, Elisa Gardiman, Fabio Arruda-Silva, Francisco Bianchetto-Aguilera, Sara Gasperini, Mattia Bugatti, William Vermi, Frederique Larousserie, Odile Devergne, Nicola Tamassia. Human neutrophils activated by TLR8 agonists, with or without IFNγ, synthesize and release EBI3, but not IL-12, IL-27, IL-35, or IL-39. Journal of leukocyte biology. 2020 Nov;108(5):1515-1526

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PMID: 32480433

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