Abstract

Interleukin (IL)-18 is an interferon (IFN)-gamma-inducing cytokine suggested to be important in regulating inflammatory responses. This study investigated the pulmonary expression of IL-18 under conditions characterized by T-helper (Th)1 (lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment/sarcoidosis) and Th2 (ovalbumin (OVA) challenge/asthma) cytokine production. In situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry were used to determine the number of cells expressing IL-18, IFN-gamma, IL-5 and major basic protein (MBP) within lung tissue from Balb/c mice stimulated with LPS, OVA and in normal control mice. Bronchial biopsies from patients with sarcoidosis, asthma and control individuals were also examined. IL-18 was localized primarily to airway epithelium and mononuclear cells. Constitutive expression was observed within the lungs of control mice. Animals challenged with LPS exhibited more IL-18 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-positive and IFN-gamma immunoreactive cells, compared to control mice (p<0.01). OVA-challenged mice had fewer IL-18 mRNA positive and more IL-5 and MBP immunoreactive cells, compared to control mice (p<0.01). Similarly, constitutive expression of IL-18 protein was observed within the airway epithelium of control individuals, with more positive cells found within sarcoidosis tissue (p<0.01) and fewer within asthmatic tissue (p<0.01), compared to controls. These results demonstrate the expression of interleukin-18 within airway epithelium and the regulation of this cytokine under conditions of both T-helper1 and T-helper2 cytokine production.