IL-4 attenuates Th1-associated chemokine expression and Th1 trafficking to inflamed tissues and limits pathogen clearance

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 26;8(8):e71949. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071949. eCollection 2013.


Interleukin 4 (IL-4) plays a central role in the orchestration of Type 2 immunity. During T cell activation in the lymph node, IL-4 promotes Th2 differentiation and inhibits Th1 generation. In the inflamed tissue, IL-4 signals promote innate and adaptive Type-2 immune recruitment and effector function, positively amplifying the local Th2 response. In this study, we identify an additional negative regulatory role for IL-4 in limiting the recruitment of Th1 cells to inflamed tissues. To test IL-4 effects on inflammation subsequent to Th2 differentiation, we transiently blocked IL-4 during ongoing dermal inflammation (using anti-IL-4 mAb) and analyzed changes in gene expression. Neutralization of IL-4 led to the upregulation of a number of genes linked to Th1 trafficking, including CXCR3 chemokines, CCL5 and CCR5 and an associated increase in IFNγ, Tbet and TNFα genes. These gene expression changes correlated with increased numbers of IFNγ-producing CD4+ T cells in the inflamed dermis. Moreover, using an adoptive transfer approach to directly test the role of IL-4 in T cell trafficking to the inflamed tissues, we found IL-4 neutralization led to an early increase in Th1 cell recruitment to the inflamed dermis. These data support a model whereby IL-4 dampens Th1-chemokines at the site of inflammation limiting Th1 recruitment. To determine biological significance, we infected mice with Leishmania major, as pathogen clearance is highly dependent on IFNγ-producing CD4+ T cells at the infection site. Short-term IL-4 blockade in established L. major infection led to a significant increase in the number of IFNγ-producing CD4+ T cells in the infected ear dermis, with no change in the draining LN. Increased lymphocyte influx into the infected tissue correlated with a significant decrease in parasite number. Thus, independent of IL-4's role in the generation of immune effectors, IL-4 attenuates lymphocyte recruitment to the inflamed/infected dermis and limits pathogen clearance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Movement / immunology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines / genetics
  • Chemokines / immunology*
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Dermis / immunology
  • Dermis / metabolism
  • Dermis / parasitology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Leishmania major / immunology
  • Leishmania major / physiology
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / immunology
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Transcriptome / immunology


  • Chemokines
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma