Oligodeoxynucleotides containing CpG motifs induce IL-12, IL-18 and IFN-gamma production in cells from allergic individuals and inhibit IgE synthesis in vitro

Eur J Immunol. 1999 Jul;29(7):2344-53. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-4141(199907)29:07<2344::AID-IMMU2344>3.0.CO;2-R.


The effects of phosphorothioate oligonucleotides containing CpG motifs (CpG-ODN) on cultured cells from allergic patients and non-atopic individuals were investigated. In peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) CpG-ODN led to a significant increase of IFN-gamma. By intracellular cytokine staining, IFN-gamma production could be attributed to NK cells and inhibition experiments indicated an IL-12-dependent mechanism. Moreover, CpG-ODN increased mRNA expression of IL-12 and IL-18 in PBMC. In this respect, no significant difference between allergic and non-atopic individuals was observed. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells were identified as one IL-12- and IL-18-producing source. In addition, stimulation of PBMC derived from atopic patients with CpG-ODN led to a considerable increase of polyclonal IgG and IgM synthesis. In contrast, the production of total IgE was suppressed. CpG-ODN induced a significant rise of IgG and IgM specific for allergens to which the patients were sensitized, whereas allergen-specific IgE levels remained unchanged. Our data suggest that CpG-ODN display a strong influence on the ongoing immune response and might represent potential adjuvants for specific immunotherapy of type I allergy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • CpG Islands
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / biosynthesis*
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin M / biosynthesis
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Interleukin-18 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-18 / genetics
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / genetics*
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / genetics
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / immunology*
  • Thionucleotides / genetics
  • Thionucleotides / pharmacology


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Interleukin-18
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Thionucleotides
  • Interleukin-12
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Interferon-gamma