Two inhibitors of pro-inflammatory cytokine release, interleukin-10 and interleukin-4, have contrasting effects on release of soluble p75 tumor necrosis factor receptor by cultured monocytes

Eur J Immunol. 1994 Nov;24(11):2699-705. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830241119.


The biological activity of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha depends on the level of TNF-alpha itself, the expression of the p55 and p75 cell surface receptors for TNF on target cells and the concentrations of the natural inhibitors of TNF-alpha, the soluble p55 and p75 TNF receptors (TNF-R). Interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-4 are known to inhibit TNF-alpha production by monocytes. We, therefore, investigated the effects of IL-10 and IL-4 on the cell surface expression and release of TNF-R by human monocytes to determine whether these cytokines also indirectly modulated the biological activity of TNF-alpha. Exposure to IL-10 (1-10 U/ml) for 24 or 48 h increased soluble p75 TNF-R expression and concomitantly reduced surface expression of p75 TNF-R. Further, IL-1 alpha-stimulated production of TNF-alpha was diminished by IL-10 and only a small proportion of this TNF-alpha was bioactive, consistent with increased production of inhibitory soluble TNF-R. IL-10 also induced down-regulation of surface p55 TNF-R on monocytes, and increased release of soluble p55 TNF-R. However, the expression of soluble p55 TNF-R was much lower than soluble p75 TNF-R, indicating that it contributed less importantly to neutralization of TNF-alpha under these conditions. Like IL-10, IL-4 supressed the release of TNF-alpha by monocytes. In contrast to IL-10, however, IL-4 (0.1-10 ng/ml) supressed the release of soluble p75 TNF-R from monocytes in a dose-dependent manner. Release of soluble p55 TNF-R was also supressed by IL-4. IL-10, therefore, reduces the pro-inflammatory potential of TNF in three ways: by down-regulating surface TNF-R expression whilst increasing production of soluble TNF-R and inhibiting the release of TNF-alpha itself. This suggests that IL-10 may be useful in the treatment of diseases where overexpression of TNF-alpha occurs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology*
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4