Interferon-lambda1 (interleukin-29) preferentially down-regulates interleukin-13 over other T helper type 2 cytokine responses in vitro

Immunology. 2008 Dec;125(4):492-502. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2008.02862.x. Epub 2008 Jun 10.


Interferon (IFN)-lambda1 [interleukin (IL)-29] is a member of the interferon lambda family (also known as type III interferons), whose members are distantly related to both the type I interferons and members of the IL-10 family. While IFN-lambda1 has significant antiviral activity, it is also becoming apparent that it has important immunoregulatory properties, especially with regard to the T helper type 2 (Th2) response. Previously, we have shown that IFN-lambda1 is capable of down-regulating IL-13 production in an IFN-gamma-independent manner and that this is mediated in part via monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Here, we have extended our knowledge of IFN-lambda1 regulation of the human in vitro Th2 response by examining the regulation of three major Th2 cytokines, IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13, by IFN-lambda1. Our results reveal that IFN-lambda1 preferentially inhibits IL-13 production, compared with IL-4 or IL-5. Levels of IL-13 mRNA, the amount of secreted IL-13 protein and numbers of IL-13-positive CD3(+) CD4(+) cells were all significantly diminished by IFN-lambda1. IFN-lambda1 significantly decreased some aspects of IL-4 and IL-5 production, but its effects were not as consistent as those seen on IL-13. IFN-lambda1 was also effective at decreasing IL-13 secretion under conditions designed to support the generation of Th2 cells. Irrespective of whether Concanavalin-A or T-cell-stimulatory microbeads were used, IFN-lambda1 markedly diminished IL-13 secretion in cultures where IL-4 had been added. Thus, IFN-lambda1 appears to be an inhibitor of human Th2 responses whose action is primarily directed towards IL-13 but which may also affect Th2 responses generally and does not invoke a complementary elevation of IFN-gamma secretion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Concanavalin A
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Interferons
  • Interleukin-13 / analysis
  • Interleukin-13 / genetics
  • Interleukin-13 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-4 / analysis
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Interleukin-5 / analysis
  • Interleukin-5 / genetics
  • Interleukin-5 / immunology
  • Interleukins / immunology*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*


  • interferon-lambda, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Concanavalin A
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferons