Journal of Immunology vol:160 issue:3 pages:1166-72
IL-12 is a heterodimeric cytokine produced by APC that promotes the development of CD4+ Th1 cells and their IFN-gamma production after TCR/CD3 triggering. We here investigated the capacity of IL-12 to modify the expression on T cells of CD40 ligand (CD40L or CD154), a molecule transiently expressed on activated T cells and known to be of utmost importance for cognate interaction with B cells and for activation of dendritic cells and macrophages. Our data demonstrate that IL-12 up-regulates CD40L expression on anti-CD3-activated human peripheral blood T cells. For optimal induction of CD40L, IL-12 synergizes with IL-2 as well as with other costimulatory interactions, such as B7/CD28. The effect of IL-12 was observed at both the protein and the mRNA level. T cells costimulated by IL-12 provided more efficient help for IL-4-dependent B cell proliferation and for IgG production than when activated in the absence of IL-12. This helper activity was blocked by an mAb against CD40L, indicating that the effect of IL-12 on B cells is mediated indirectly through CD40L. The data thus suggest that the effects of IL-12 on cellular and humoral immune responses are partly mediated through CD40L induction.